Over the years Laramie, Wyoming has become a tourist attraction for those seeking an authentic slice of the American Wild West, but in October 1998 international attention became focused on the small town for a very different reason.
Twenty-one-year-old homosexual student Matthew Shepard was beaten, tortured and tied to a fence for 18 hours, the tracks of his tears evident against his blood stained face. Following his death, a public outcry ensued as the battle against homophobia in small town America became a hot topic.
Embarking on a journey to explore the aftermath of Shepard’s death, New York-based Tectonic Theatre Project questioned “What can we theatre artists do as a response to this incident?” The answer; an award-winning piece of verbatim theatre that has since been re-performed hundreds of times by various companies internationally – and now the play returns to Melbourne with Mockingbird Theatre.
Proudly supporting the Victorian 'No to Homophobia' campaign, a cast of nine tackles an array of characters in director Chris Baldock’s simple, yet effective approach to retelling the aftermath of Shepard’s death. The challenging content is performed brilliantly, with particular kudos going to Adam Ward and Maggie Chrétien, who both perform with such honesty that the actuality of their words is all the more devastating.
At times the allusions to all things American is overplayed – the soundtrack in particular distracts from the hard-hitting content at certain moments. However, this is a very thought-provoking, superbly executed play. With three acts and two intervals do make sure you get comfortable before the dramatic discomfort starts.