The Laramie Project is a heart-wrenching play depicting the reaction to the 1998 brutal murder of Matthew Shepherd, a gay University of Wyoming student in Laramie, Wyoming. Performed by the Italia Conti ensemble and directed by Kate Colgrave-Pope, the production is highly evocative and will most certainly bring a tear to your eye.
Original members of the first production performed by the Tectonic Theatre Project conducted hundreds of interviews in Laramie, talking to a variety of different inhabitants of the town. The play is based upon these interviews and means that we hear a range of different opinions about the subject of gay rights, the issue of crime laws and about Matthew, the individual.
The play starts with a cry of: ‘Hear our play for Matthew’. It is evident from the offset that the production is designed to challenge the discrimination and ignorant judgement of LGBT people and raise awareness about homophobia that is still rife to this day. What is so powerful about this piece is the human emotion captured from all members of society and the varying effects that this heinous act had on different individuals. As an audience member you are transfixed by each individual monologue that seem so genuine and from the heart. Not only are the characters of Matthew’s family and loved one portrayed, but we hear from the killers themselves and their girlfriends. This horrific crime is dealt with sensitively and intelligently; no one left without a voice.
Each cast member takes of a number of different roles, seamlessly swapping from one character to another and altogether portraying over 60 people. The performers are all individually outstanding but a particularly poignant scene was the monologue given by Matthew’s father. With the audience audibly moved to tears, the young actors of the Italia Conti ensemble have more than proved their worth as talented and extremely promising performers.
Hard-hitting, beautifully crafted and unbelievably powerful, this insight into what it’s like to be gay in ‘cowboy country’ is outstanding.