Review: The Laramie Project

SAM WATTS is impressed by a complex play that manages to be both captivating and slick.

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The Laramie Project manages to stay captivating from start to finish, whilst expertly discussing controversial topical issues: what is a hate crime? Is the death penalty ever warranted? Is a town homophobic if a homophobic crime takes place there?

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While the script’s lack of dialogue, featuring mostly monologues, with all conversation taken verbatim from interviews with the townspeople of Laramie, risks seeming monotonous, it overcame this through a fresh directorial stance. The juxtaposition between scenes of constant motion and of static monologues, and their crossover, didn’t allow the audience to rest for a second. While the opening scene of chaotic movement seemed a little clumsy, this was improved when the mirror scene was performed again at the end. Added to this, the dialogue between one actor and the rest of the cast created different effects, from intimidation to collaboration.

Both the brilliant soundtrack that bridged scenes, with music slowly fading over dialogue, and the use creative lighting, smoothed the rapid change of scenes and characters, giving the play a balanced and constant forward direction.

It would be impossible to identify a weak member of the cast. The seven actors take on the challenge of portraying up to sixty characters, and excel at it. The constant transition from character to character is seamless, with the total contrast in personality and direction appearing perfectly natural in the structure of the play. The actors master each persona so well that they seem to transform themselves entirely in a matter of seconds. They work equally effectively as a chorus, using well choreographed movements to unite them, as they do as individuals. While some group scenes fell out of sync at times, the performance as a whole was highly professional.

Particularly notable were the performances of Posey Mehta, in her poignant description of first seeing the beaten victim, and the powerful mix of monologue and dialogue between Marge, played by Margaret Maurer, and her daughter, Reggie, by Alice Carlill.

Director Joe Jukes uses the intimate Corpus Playroom to its fullest, engaging the audience and creating a unique atmosphere. He provides us with a powerful, thought provoking experience that I would recommend all to take part in.

4 stars.