Vigil is about a man returning—after thirty years—to sit with a female relative on her deathbed. The self-centred and shallow protagonist Kemp 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 one woman and one man.
About the author
Playwright, actor and director Morris Panych has been described as “a man for all seasons in Canadian theatre.” He has appeared in more than fifty theatre productions and in numerous television and film roles. He has directed more than thirty theatre productions and written more than 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 ninth among the ten best-selling plays in Canada, outselling the Coles version of Romeo & Juliet.