The Laramie Project

Date 10th July 2015
Society Wranglers Theatre Company
Venue Muse Theatre. Lipson Co-operative Academy.
Type of Production Play
Director Kerry Hore

Report

Author: Michael Simpson

I must confess to not remembering this incident from October 1998 when a young man, Mathew Shepard, was set upon, kidnapped, beaten and left to die, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. Five weeks after the incident a Theatre group from New York travelled to Laramie and conducted over 200 interviews with the townspeople and from those interviews wrote this play depicting life in the town in the year after the murder.

A cast of 22 played on average 5 different towns folk which I thought was a tremendous achievement and no prompting was necessary. During the play it is eventually realized that Mathew was homosexual, this being 17 years ago and in the Mid West where people were not as tolerant as we hope they are today.

This production was mesmerising from start to finish. The cast were all seated around the perimeter of the stage with the characters coming forward at the appropriate moments. When it was realized how this murder had affected  the Town and how it had to deal with their prejudice was handled with great ability. These young people with just a couple of older cast were superb.

The two killers were interviewed separately one of whom showed some contrition but the other had a total disregard for what had happened. The most moving speech came from Mathews father also from the young man who found Mathew. The ending was particularly inspiring as the whole cast are sat holding lights in commemoration which they leave on stage and walk off. No walk down which was as it should be. The play was enhanced by using actual video footage and transcripts from the original court proceedings.

This was a very thought provoking production so congratulations to the young Director Kerry Hore and her two assistants Liam Salmon and Matt Reeve.