25 June 2005

It's a Big Day in our house, as B and her ma are throwing a Big Party tonight and our place will be CentCom for the operation. So I'll be off shortly to do prep - printers, florists. All very last minute but that's part of the fun.

But a quick word about last night. The Laramie Project is on at the new Sound Theatre, which is practically on Leicester Square, in the throbbingly busiest part of London Town. It was press night and I went along with pals connected to the company in various ways. I liked the buzz of pn, I liked the free sarnies (tho' they weren't meant for me), and I liked the acting very much. What I could see of it anyways - liggers like me were coralled on a balcony affording views of the space to only the first rank of standees, and even then there were massive pillars in the way. So we had to think of it as a radio play, and sit with eyes closed, concentrating.
This rather odd "view" of the play means that I can't comment on the production, but I think I got enough of the piece to be able to say, I just didn't like it. I didn't sit well with me at all. I couldn't abide the tone, the relentlessly earnest, mawkish, and, frankly, ghoulish material, leavened by caricatures of Laramie-ites designed to raise a titter.
The original LP was a terrifically well-meant exercise, an urgent response to a shocking, senseless murder. But I agree with a comment I've read on the Culture Wars site, that the Mass Observation-style approach employed says a lot more about the prejudices, foibles and concerns of the Tectonic Theatre people than it does about the people of Laramie. The portrayal of the perpetrators was, to me, grossly inadequate. This is a limitation of the verbatim genre that can't be glossed over. Since they can't explain themselves, we get no explanation, and the people of Laramie, according to the piece, couldn't care less about that.

In the end, what are we left with? God knows, Matthew Shepard didn't deserve to die such a cruel, miserable, painful death, and there's no possible 'but' to that fact. You'd have to have a heart of stone to be unmoved by the verbatim account, beautifully acted, of the courtroom speech delivered to the murderers by Matthew's father.

2 comments:

Ova Girl said...

Yeah....

see I missed seeing the Belvoir St theatre version of this play so I hesitate to comment but I was very wary of the show. It seemed like an exercise in mimicry to some degree. The original production with original researcher/actors had a relevance and truth to it but I couldn't see why we had our own Sydney version (complete with clever US accents) of it. Yes, the themes are universal etc but surely we have equally horrible crimes and situations with equally disfunctional/hurting communities right here... my overall impression was...why?

RLN said...

Haven't seen LARAMIE yet, but saw Tectonic's GROSS INDECENCY when friends were raving about it in 1998, and was underwhelmed. It seemed superficially researched and way too hagiographic for its pretence to objective 'journalism.' I did see a good student production of it last year, but they really threw themselves into humanising the script - long live fiction.

Have heard that LARAMIE is better done... will see it sooner or later. Thanks for the review.