The Laramie Project – Theatre Western

By Adam Collier

As a matter of cultural significance and technical craft, the text of “The Laramie Project” sets the bar very high. This is an emotionally dense play, in which each actor is asked to take on multiple roles.

Its narrative is an intuitively arranged collection of fragments from interviews conducted by the Tectonic Theater Company with the residents of Laramie, Wyoming. They are in response to the local case of Mathew Shepard – kidnapped, robbed, tortured and left to die tied to a fence post, because he was gay.

The cast is commendably faithful to the nuances, and occasional knottiness, of the everyday speech from which text is drawn. Moreover, each actor in this production (by Theatre Western, as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival), has at least a few breakout moments.

The directors responsible (Kate Rebry and Jen Fraser) have, for the most part, have staged “The Laramie Project” with laudable clarity, though I didn’t get a sense that throughout the play as a whole, every person portrayed onstage had a consistently unique voice. About three-quarters in things got a bit confusing. Still, I got a sense of the enormous span of empathy (and lack of empathy) for all the people involved in the story.

My guess is the production could have used another a week or two of rehearsal. Luckily though, that means hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday of this week will be a slightly higher form, which it is fully capable of reaching.
– The Laramie Project will continue at the Tarragon Mainspace (30 Bridgman Avenue) through Saturday, July 11th with remaining shows Tuesday July 7th at 10:30 p.m., Wednesday July 8th at Noon, Thursday July 9th at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday July 11th at 4:00 p.m.
– Tickets are $10 at the door
– For more info, please contact www.theatrewestern.ca