THE LARAMIE PROJECT by Moisés Kaufman and Tectonic Theatre, directed by Joel Greenberg, with Lesley Dowey, Deborah Drakeford, Marvin Hinz, Alison Lawrence, Mark McGrinder, Jeff Miller, Kimwun Perehinec and Dylan Roberts. Presented by Studio 180 and Buddies in Bad Times at Buddies (12 Alexander). Runs to March 28, Wednesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $20-$35, some Sunday pwyc. 416-872-1212. Rating: NNNN
In the laramie project, ordinary people deal with an extraordinary event, and out of that clash comes great theatre. Cleverly crafted using dozens of interviews conducted in Laramie, Wyoming, by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project following the brutal 1998 murder of gay Matthew Shepard, the piece is a wonderful tapestry of compassion and hate woven together with invisible threads of homophobia and humanity.
Act one begins with everyday exchanges and leads up to the discovery of Shepard, whom we never see or hear from. All three acts constitute an emotional exploration of a world where unspoken attitudes are as powerful as external actions.
Directed by Joel Greenberg , the splendid ensemble in this remount - new member Jeff Miller fits in seamlessly - has the acting chops to switch from one figure to another with the turn of a hand or the donning of a jacket.
I saw The Laramie Project this time with a school audience, mostly guys, who never broke the show's spell with talk or uncomfortable giggles, even at the gay material. On second viewing I was struck by the marvellous journeys made by some of the characters.
Among the most striking of these are a young acting student (Miller) who realizes the effect of his choices; a friend of Shepard's ( Kimwun Perehinec ) who discovers political activism; and a mother and daughter ( Alison Lawrence and Deborah Drakeford ) who go through their own private agonies because of the murder. An excellent, moving piece of theatre.