Playwright: Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theatre Project
Venue: Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, Evergreen, CO
Company: Evergreen Players Theatre Company
Date of Performance: Sunday, November 4, 2012
Running Time: 2 hours, 55 minutes (including two 10 minute intermissions).
“The Laramie Project” is the story of Matthew Shepard. In October 1998, Shepard was a twenty-one-year-old student at the University of Wyoming. He was kidnapped, severely beaten and left to die, tied to a fence in a prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming.
His bloody, bruised and battered body was not discovered until the next day. He died several days later in a Fort Collins hospital. He was murdered because he was gay.
There are rarely times when I am left emotionally and physically drained by a play. This is one of those times, because “The Laramie Project” is a rare, beautiful, poignant and powerful piece of theater.
The script has been carefully sculpted from over 200 interviews done over the course of a year and half with the people of Laramie. They tell a story of innocence, cruelty, violence, justice, and ultimately, hope for change.
The cast/ensemble is superb. It’s not just about their obvious talent; their performances are driven by their great passion for the subject. They bring many, if not all, in the audience to tears.
There are many emotional moments in the script, but none as moving as hearing Matthew’s father address the court just before sentencing Matthew's murderers. As Tony Catanese delivers those words to the audience, we see the ensemble, in the background, wiping their own tears from their eyes. They weep not because it’s in the script, but because no one, not even those who have heard these words at every performance, can endure the profound tragedy of Matthew’s death.
This is a difficult review to write. Words cannot describe a sunset; nor can they adequately describe the experience of seeing “The Laramie Project.” You have to be there when the sun lights up the sky, and you have to be there, in Evergreen, in that room, to experience "The Laramie Project."
Does a theater experience get any better than the “Laramie Project?”
I think not. It is a complete package. Direction, set, lights, sound, cast…nothing misses. We are reminded that great theater can entertain, inspire, inform, and sometimes it can change your life. “The Laramie Project” does it all.
Time is running out. This show runs until November 11. Get your tickets here. (Mature themes.)
Director: Angela Astle
Costume Designer: Terri Fong
Sound Designer: El Armstrong
Lighting Design: Jen Orf