Review: THE LARAMIE PROJECT, Bristol Old Vic

By: Feb. 22, 2020
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Review: THE LARAMIE PROJECT, Bristol Old Vic Review: THE LARAMIE PROJECT, Bristol Old Vic Welcome to Laramie, Wyoming - population 26,687. Here we find a small town shaken by a shocking event which impacted almost everyone who lived there. Although this play was first performed 20 years ago, it still feels so current and real for the world we live in today.

The Laramie Project was originally performed by the Tectonic Theater Company, which visited Laramie following the brutal attack on a young gay man in rural Wyoming to interview the locals effected by the events. The play was written by the company along with Mois?-s Kaufman.

The young cast of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School perform now, under the direction of Nancy Medina, the current guise of this play, which features an ensemble cast acting as both the New York theatre group themselves along with a range of local Laramie residents who were interviewed for the project.

Much of the dialogue is verbatim, and the performers skilfully define each character and deliver the script with finesse. Dressed in simple boiler suit costumes, the individuality and quirks of each interviewee is portrayed through mannerisms, dialects and sometimes the announcement of their name.

Throughout the play, however, there is an increasing use of additional costuming to further bring to life the cast of characters. Bea Wilson has designed a subtle way of using costume to enhance the personality traits and position of the people of Laramie. From the addition of a simple hat or cardigan to a garish shell suit complete with homophobic slur, we begin to really know these people and their very personal stories.

The Weston Studio is an ideal location for this play, and the space is used to its best advantages. From the opening scenes, there is eye contact and direct communication. We are being drawn, intimately, into this conversation.

It is a complex and powerful topic, and the themes of religion and the nature of the homophobic attack are not avoided, but instead embraced and explored. The strength and love that people find through diversity, and the pain and magnitude of hatred, is palpable. This will stay with you.

The Laramie Project is showing in the Weston Studio, Bristol Old Vic until 29 February

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