The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project is a play documenting the tragic death of Matthew Sheppard, who was kidnapped and savagely beaten before being left to die tied to a fence on the outskirts of a Wyoming town.

The narrative is unusual for a theatrical production as it takes the form of a series of interviews with the people of Laramie, the town where Sheppard lived, and is more documentary than straight drama. It's a Fringe favourite, and since its first appearance it has played across the world and also been made into a feature film.

Hearing that a cast of 14-18 year olds are tackling this tricky subject matter may not sound encouraging, but then there is something very powerful in watching the next generation delivering passionate dialog about hate crime. This works incredibly well.

A team of ten actors from the Stromness Drama Club in Orkney give an intensely moving performance against the backdrop of a gnarly wooden fence and projected images to illustrate a scene. The sets are simple black blocks, which flow in and out of the action to serve as a chair, a pulpit or whatever. This creates interesting levels and depth, and the cast use every last inch of the space.

If there are any criticisms, then they are minor. The occasional fluffed line looses none of the meaning within the context of the format. The layout of the theatre also presents a challenge for such a large cast, having the audience on three sides. Occasionally there are blocking problems, but the delivery is clear, so the effect is minimal.

Overall, an excellent job from a young and talented group. One word of warning, however - pack tissues. This is highly emotional stuff.

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