Tuesday, November 13, 2012
A Night in Laramie
To be honest, I'm surprised I haven't caught a production of this before. I haven't even seen the star-laden television adaptation (which was cut down from over 2 hours to 90 minutes), but I may have to make an effort to seek it out now. I can't speak for other versions of it, but I was very impressed by this local one give or take some artistic decisions that I found questionable. I don't claim to have any historical context in order to properly review theatre, nor a particularly strong knowledge of what's going on in the stage world at the moment to properly assess it in the same way I would a film, but other reviews appear to have been similarly impressed as I so I'll trust my judgement that this is a fine rendition of the work.
Of course, even if the actors weren't up to task then the material would still be remarkably strong. A definite case for substance over style (any style, really), The Laramie Project is economic in its staging, but rich in emotional rewards. I shed several tears, that's for sure, and one woman in particular two rows behind was openly sobbing quite vocally during the final act. Thankfully two seemingly grumpy old men directly behind me didn't return after the first interval, which calls into question whether they had any idea what they were seeing. However, I could have done without the intrusive use of recongnisable Thomas Newman score (American Beauty! Road to Perdition! The Shawshank Redemption! Erin Brockovich!) that drifted in and out in a distracting fashion. Somebody on the production team must be a big Newman fan for there's no real thematic necessary for any music least of all the work of Newman whose preference for sweeping, swirling strings aims to pull heartstrings that the material was strong enough to achieve on its own. At least they didn't use the music of Brokeback Mountain, I guess!
Still, it was a fabulous show and I'm so glad I was able to attend it before it departed. Where it goes to now, if anywhere, is beyond me, but if it gets shipped around to your part of the country I'd definitely recommend you go see it. Whether you've seen it before or not, it's never too late to be reminded of what it was like (and still is for some, obviously) for some gay men. Even if you're not gay though, it has vital things to say and that, I suppose, is something to be championed. I'd be fascinated to see and hear the original recordings, since the very earnest nature of their words could be even more powerful when being heard from their own mouths. Still, if not that then this will do just fine.