Regent Park in Toronto is an area in transition. Once a drug traffic and sex trade hub, gentrification has turned the neighbourhood around. Alas, the district’s denizens remain in the borough, trying to survive day in and day out.

The Stairs sheds light on their existence by focusing on their daily routine. The approach is respectful of their choices and prevents any judgement from seeping through. Director Hugh Gibson interviews a handful of residents in the course of five years, and documents their struggle with sobriety and their efforts to gain stability. They fail more than succeed, but the realization that there isn’t a way out is somewhat freeing.

The one element that sets the subjects in The Stairs apart is their community involvement and genuine concern for their fellow men. This trait makes them more relatable and their stories more heartbreaking.

While cinematographically flat, The Stairs has an immediacy that elevates it above similar ventures.  Three prairie dogs.

The Stairs will be playing at the RPL Theatre from Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th. Director Hugh Gibson will be in attendance for Q&A.