Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Wednesday, 4 May 2011
The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, Red Stitch, May 03, 2011
A scene from The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later at the Red Stitch Actors Theatre in St Kilda.
The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, Red Stitch Actors Theatre, until May 28, 2011
THE Laramie Project: Ten Years Later revisits the docu-drama by Tectonic Theater about the 1998 murder of young gay man Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming.
The theatre company, as with the first play, constructs this script from interviews with the Laramie community. This second play not only researches attitudinal changes 10 years later but also investigates the conventions of rumour.
It uncovers the way people reframe memory, adapt stories, jettison unpleasant facts and abandon truth to make the retelling of history more palatable.
Nobody wants their town to have the reputation of being a home to bigots, racists and hate crimes, but this play is didactic and educational.
We witness attitudes from blinkered, racist bigotry to radical activism, but are not emotional participants --
kept at an arm's length from the pain, guilt and grief.
Performances from the cast of nine, directed by Gary Abrahams, are unembellished, powerful and clear, using direct audience address. Cast members play multiple roles as both theatre company researchers and Laramie residents.
The style is reminiscent of 1980s political theatre in Australia, UK and Canada. The US took time to catch up. The tiny, restricted stage, unfortunately, is cluttered with large screens that are constantly moved by actors. The play cries out for open space, different levels and a deep, panoramic view to allow characters to observe and be observed.
This claustrophobic quality, though intentional, does not serve the play.