The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman and the members of Tectonic Theater Project

Director Nicola Cavendish Scenography Ronald Fedoruk Costume Design Zoe Green Sound Design Jonathon Munro Stage Manager Laura McLean

Dates and Venue 19 - 28 November 2009 @ 7:30pm Theatre at UBC

Reviewer Jane Penistan

The Laramie Project is not only the work of a team of writers it is a more than usual team effort on the part of the actors and their technical support. The information projected on the over stage screen is an integral part of the production, a silent but visible announcer.

The large cast is brilliantly directed by Nicola Cavendish. Her variety and placement of actors, management of crowd scenes and varied pace overall make this an enthralling performance.

The Laramie Project is a dramatization of a horrific assault by two young men on a university student, Matthew Shepard, in the town of Laramie Wyoming. They drove their victim out of town, beat him up, tied him to a fence post and left him to die under the stars, where he was found, some hours later, by a cyclist who called the emergency services who took him to hospital where he died some days later. The shock of this savage brutality reverberated through the population of the rural town. The authors of the play visited Laramie, interviewed the townsfolk and from these interviews composed the script.

The fifteen members of the acting company perform 30 + roles, including those of the writers, as the narration of the events is dramatized. There is humour as well as horror here, singing and dancing as well as solemn vigil, a parade with banners and placards, and a disruptive band of “angels” . There are quiet soliloquies, academic philosophizing, intimate family moments and moral discussions. Ultimately, the question, who is responsible for this crime disrupts the community?.

This is a lengthy play which could be tedious, but instead is a well paced, always moving, varied and interesting in its unfolding of the way a tragedy like this one affects a community. The ensemble work in this piece is impeccable as are the solos.

This superb production offers much food for thought and will keep one pondering for a long time

© 2009 Jane Penistan