Production images: David Hodder

The companion piece to THE LARAMIE PROJECT, is running in repertory with it. Named THE LARAMIE PROJECT: 10 YEARS LATER it doesn’t require one to have seen the first to fully appreciate the second. It does, in fact, take place 10 years after Tectonic Theatre Projects went to Laramie Wyoming to research the death of Matthew Shepard.

Both plays use the verbatim theatre techniques refined by Tectonic, play on the same set and involve the same nine cast. But it is a different animal, a lesser creature in some ways, but an important and worthy watch.

When I saw the first of Theatre Travels’s Laramies, early in the season, there were flaws in the production, many of those are no longer evident in 10 YEARS LATER. The level of overacting is reduced and the lighting and resultant staging problems have been addressed.   However, the text is not as engrossing as the first, still engaging, still a vital watch but with an agenda that was not as apparent previously.

Taking on, forcefully, the revisionism which seeks to take the gay hate out of the crime, there is a repetition of that idea and an investigative bent to the selection of the verbatim dialogue which makes for a less complex text.  It is slow in places, allowing a space of thoughtfulness about the issues presented which can be a strong asset, but there is a balance missing. What that extension of concepts does do is to allow enough character engagement for an increased empathy to develop.  There are some very well created performances in the delivery of some confronting dialogue which certainly keeps the audience in the moment. And allows for the banality of some of these characters to appear before us.

While the longer monologue structure of 10 YEARS LATER doesn’t allow the co-directors, Rosie Niven and Carly Fisher, to implement the stylistic touches which were neatly inserted into the first show which has considerably more group work, the directors still utilize the space well for variety.

One is very aware of how important this work is, both plays, there’s a weight of expectation here and that responsibility is taken to heart by the cast and crew in their committed and focussed performances in  what continues to be a timely and relevant revival.

THE LARAMIE PROJECT and 10 YEARS LATER from Theatre Travels [Facebook]  continues at the Seymour Centre until December 8th.  You can read a pre-production interview with the co-directors here.