Laramie challenges and impresses

By Gail Chrisfield

The Laramie Project, Torquay Theatre Troupe’s latest production, is a play that asks much of its talented cast and even more of audience members.

Some may find the true events inspiring the play challenging, the views expressed on stage confronting or the revolving door of characters confusing. Ultimately however, the play is deeply moving and as relevant as ever in these times of renewed bigotry and fear.

Set in the small American town of Laramie, Wyoming, at the end of the 1990s, the three-act play explores the devastating impacts of a sickening hate crime on the community. What emerges provides an insight into the potential consequences of being unable or unwilling to accept our individual differences.

Developed by Moises Kaufman and members of New York’s Tectonic Theater Project, the play uses a docu-drama structure. This draws on a series of interviews the group conducted with real town folk, members’ journal entries, media reports, court transcripts and the like.

The troupe’s fine production honours its originators’ intentions. Under Zina Carman’s sensitive and intelligent direction, the 12-member assemble cast skilfully pulls off 60 different characters. The ease with which they transition from one to the next – with a flick of a scarf, a voice change or a gesture – is truly impressive.

Hats off to those on stage: Michael Baker, Glen Barton, Dianne Buttigieg, Cat Crowe, Michael Lambkin, Kathryn O’Neill, Rob Pow, Fred Preston, Sindi Renea, Terry Roseburgh, Carleen Thoernberg and Lachie Vivian-Taylor; and to the troupers behind the scenes.

The Laramie Project might not resonate with everyone but it deserves to be seen. The troupe is to be commended for bringing it to Surf Coast audiences – and for ‘telling it right’.

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