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Monday January 23, 2012 in Books
Since Morris Panych’s classic black comedy, Vigil, premiered in 1996, it has been produced throughout North America, the United Kingdom and Europe, including a 2009 Off-Broadway production, which opened to rave reviews, a run as Auntie & Me in London and, most recently, shows at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where Panych directed Academy Award–winner Olympia Dukakis opposite Marco Barricelli in the lead role.
This updated edition incorporates changes to scenes and dialogue that have been part of the play’s evolution over the past fifteen years, as well as a new playwright’s note.
Vigil is about a man returning—after thirty years—to sit with a female relative on her deathbed. Kemp, the protagonist, is an extremely self-centred and shallow person who uses acid wit and seemingly callous indifference to cover up the profound discomfort he experiences upon finding himself part of a death watch. Kemp’s problem is: she’s not dying fast enough. Through Kemp’s own errors and inattentiveness, the visit that he thinks will take a day or two stretches into a year, and he finds himself caring for his long-forgotten aunt Grace against his will. Gallows humour and Kemp’s diatribes on humanity and mortality fuel this delightfully dark narrative, but it is Grace’s economical contributions to the dialogue (she’s a woman of few words) that give this play its weight and profundity. A play of mistaken identity, twisted circumstance and surprising turns, it is deliciously absurd, incredibly funny and poignantly tender. This is one Vigil worth keeping.
Cast of 1 woman and 1 man.
ISBN 13: 9780889226920 | ISBN 10: 88922692X
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 80 pages
16.95 CAN / 16.95 US
Backlist | Drama | Bisac: DRA013000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“A small masterpiece.”
—Globe & Mail
“A devilishly funny play [that] laughs in death’s face.”
“This is one of those rare, liberating plays that actually breaks a taboo. [Panych] gives voice to the silent thoughts that hover around many death-beds.”
“literate, incisive, edgy and lots of good, naughty fun.”
—Syracuse New Times
“…It causes us to think about, and perhaps appreciate in a new light, all the small things in life that ultimately define the relationships that matter most.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
Winner of the 1996 Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Original Play or Musical (Arts Club Theatre)
About the ContributorsMorris Panych
Playwright, actor and director Morris Panych has been described as “a man for all seasons in Canadian theatre.” He has appeared in over fifty theatre productions and in numerous television and film roles. He has directed more than ninety productions and written over a dozen plays that have been translated and produced throughout the world. He has twice won the Governor General’s Award and has won the Jessie Richardson Theatre Award fourteen times for acting and directing. He has also been nominated six times for Toronto’s Dora Mavor Moore Award and three times for the Chalmers Award. His classic 7 Stories ranks 9th among the ten best selling plays in Canada, outselling the Coles version of Romeo & Juliet.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.