by Lucy Feldmann of Severna Park
As the curtain closed on “The Laramie Project” at the Jemicy School, the actors were suspended in reverential silence, but the audience was on its feet, tears barely dried still tattooed on their faces.
“The Laramie Project,” written by Moises Kaufman in 2000, tells the true story of the residents of Laramie, Wyoming as they struggle to cope with the aftermath of the hate crime committed against Matthew Shepard that ultimately resulted in his murder. The show is comprised of real quotes from interviews and journal entries from the townspeople.
Central to the overall performance were the talents of the Company as they shifted like chameleons from one character to the next.
Ethan Lifson-Book was particularly moving as Gov. Jim Geringer, Father Roger Schmit, Dennis Shepard, and Rulon Stacey. Book portrayed the dueling views on homosexuality presented in the play. Acting as his own foil, he depicted both sides with equal passion, demonstrating his skills as an actor and stunning the audience into silence with both his wisdom and his hatred.
To put it simply, Darby Goodwin (Officer Reggie Fluty and Romaine Patterson) delivered. While her acting skills excelled in the role of Officer Fluty as she described finding Sheppard’s body, it was truly her journey of self-discovery as Romaine Patterson that defined her performance. Goodwin was truly inspiring as she demonstrated how the loss of a friend could have irreparable consequences but motivate true social change.
Also commendable was the performance of Myles Johnson as Rob DeBree, Cal Rerucha, Matt Mickleson, and Baptist Minister, as he too navigated the changes of character associated with the show with ease. Johnson’s performance as the Baptist Minister opened the audience’s eyes to perspectives on homosexuality not generally offered in the Maryland area. He showed insensitivity towards the brutal crime, which encapsulated the backwards viewpoints of some religions and communicated to the audience the importance of empathy during hardship.
Between the hilarious Daniel Clark as Doc O’Connor and the earnest Fletcher Silberg as Matt Galloway, the audience struggled to catch its breath and was offered comedic relief from an otherwise emotional show.
Additionally, Andrew Spriggs was charming as the young Jedidiah Shultz.
With the minimalistic construction of tall concrete walls, clothing racks, and chairs, the set department shone as it assisted the fluid transitions of the show through many settings. The height of the walls also added depth to the show as it served to emphasize the close-minded viewpoints of the town. Additionally, the sound design of the show added another layer to the production as characters spoke overtop of each other to encapsulate the immersion of conflict in the town. Finally, the special effect of snow during Matthew Sheppard’s funeral made the scene feel magical as the whole community rallied together to mourn the loss of three children of the community, both Matthew and the potential futures of his killers.
With a show this dynamic and interesting, audiences were left with nothing but bittersweet inspiration and a desire to make change.
The performance reviewed was from Sunday, 10/27/2019.
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