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{Boy with a dark, haunting look} Stay
By David Demchuk
Directed by Anne Driscoll
Starring Mark Haraplak and Caroline Gillis
Played at Backstage, Theatre Passe Muraille, June 6, 1999
Review by Michael Cottrell


Sitting eating a pizza slice at a village bistro, hey doesn't that sound more chic then saying "while eating a slice at Pizza Pizza", David Demchuck walked past me. I wanted to yell out to him, "David, I saw your play, it was dark!" But that would be the obvious, of course the play was dark, it was in the backstage at Theatre Passe Muraille. The set was uniquely sparse one grave site center stage, on a mound of snow, over shadowed by black sloping walls, and a jail cell. But that is not the dark I wanted to yell out about. David this was a dark play, a soulful dark play.

Stay caught me off surprise. Knowing the playwright, he is the most unassuming gentle, quiet man one could meet yet he writes dialogue so deeply that I was pulled into the story, darkness and all.

"Stay" believe it or not is a simple story. A story of one man Joey, played by Mark Haraplak. Who is on a "Stay" of his own execution. The story quickly unfolds as a lament on his part of the Stay. Joey wants to be "put down" as he calls it.

The second character immediately is know as Joey is in a monologue talking through a letter to the yet unseen Roberta played by Caroline Gillis (see Waiting for Lewis, Theatre Direct Canada).

Joey seems like such a nice man, blonde, simple, doesn't appear or even speak of violence...in a direct way that is. Beneath this unassuming facade the depth of Joey's psyche emerges. Slowly but slowly what this man had done is woven into his letters to Roberta. This is not someone I would want passing me by at my chic pizza bistro.

Roberta, the semi frumpy Canadian woman. It is Roberta's character that ties up the past, the present and the future. It is Roberta standing on the grave site, sky dreaming with the stars that reminds how dark Stay is.

Demchuck's writing is strong and narrative. The characters are not active, they are primarily vocalizing a story, their story. The audience discovers how dark this Joey really is, but it palatable and safe because the character is far removed from the audience. The murder of children is not something I want in my face thank you.Joey is behind bars way up at the top of the stage and I mean ceiling top. So he can tell his story, and we are safely detached from it all.

Stay has some brilliant staging. The Backstage is a small, small venue and the Director Anne Driscoll used the stage to the maximum. Just when I was thinking OK this is a interesting but dark play, but it is OK, it is almost over, just when I was accepting the darkness and feeling safe and secure the jail wall disappears and Joey comes sliding down the overhung wall and jumps to center stage.

I knew we should not have sat right up front, I will not listen to boyfriend's and co-workers again about where they want to sit. Suddenly I am faced with this psychotic murderer right in front of me. I am not thinking he is "nice" or cute or blonde anymore. I have been sucked into this story and there before me is the darkness of the Stay.

The next day when the play writer walked past me as I was dining on the terrace of Pizza PizzaI wanted to yell out David, " saw your Stay...It was so Dark!" I didn't. I ate the pizza instead. Thank god for comfort food!




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