Tuesday, 28 October 2003

Lorilei, Tom Wright & Nicholas Harrington, Oct 28, 2003

Lorilei  by Tom Wright & Nicholas Harrington  
 La Mama, Carlton, Oct 29 to Nov 9, 2003 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

In Australia we no longer have the death penalty for murderers but, in the USA, the debate about capital punishment continues.

This short monodrama, Lorilei,  provides a glimpse into the horrific experience of Lorilei Guillory,  the mother of a murdered child whose killer, Ricky Langley,  is on Death Row.

The play was conceived by Tom Wright and Nicholas Harrington who also collaborated on This Is A True Story,  another story focussing on a Death Row inmate.

Myriad elements make this piece unique and important. Not the least of these is the consummate performance by Anna Galvin  as Lorilei.

Galvin delivers a compelling monologue based on a BBC interview with Lorilei. She sits at a plain table, addressing us, her audience, teling of the loss and grief.

Galvin is luminous in her anguish as she unveils the noble, fragile heart of Lorilei. She touches us with Lorilei's unadorned description of her journey from the initial shock of Jeremy's  disappearance, through the discovery of his body and the subsequent walking coma she experienced.

In almost a Brechtian  style, Galvin reaches us emotionally but compels us to think, educating us about the human rights issues while telling her personal story.

Lorilei reveals her astonishing desire to save her child's killer from the death penalty. She does not forgive him, nor does she doubt his guilt. She simply does not believe we have the right to kill him.

Some forty minutes into the monologue, Lorilei describes visiting Ricky Langley on Death Row. At this moment he appears.

Tom Wright plays Ricky as an innocuous little man, manacled hand and foot, bespectacled and slack-mouthed.

He utters not a syllable throughout the remainder of the play as Lorilei describes her visit to him and his journey to his second trial and reprieve. It is an inspired and controlled performance of a tragic simpleton.

What appals us finally is how Lorilei is treated after she announces publicly that she wants Ricky's sentence commuted. She is castigated, manipulated and abused at the hands of the public who supported her, the attorneys on both sides and even by her family.

The simplicity of this production and its pure theatricality make it a rivetting piece of theatre.

By Kate Herbert

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