The original production of The Laramie Project
rode on the wave of passion and grief spawned by the murder of Matthew Shepard. The current work, which looks at Laramie and the related issues as they appear 10 years after the fact, is necessarily more contemplative and thoughtful, but it builds up its own brand of steam. Predictably, opinions of Laramie, Wyo., citizens were all over the place. Some felt that Matthew had been forgotten too quickly, while others felt that his story had become a millstone around the town's neck, fostered by the media. But largely due to a 20/20
broadcast, which ignored the trial evidence and claimed that the murder was not a hate crime but just a drug-infused robbery gone wrong, a softer, less upsetting, revisionist view has been adopted by many local citizens. The script, richly based on actual words of those involved, including murderer Aaron McKinney (Michael Hanson, alternating with Dylan Seaton), and Shepard's mother, Judy (Elizabeth Herron), is acted with passion by 10 wonderfully gifted actors, accompanied by folk singer Johanna Chase. Director Ken Sawyer demonstrates that, although the documentary approach is not sensational, it's nevertheless gripping, effective and deeply affecting. Gay and Lesbian Center's Davidson/Valentini Theatre, The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 7 p.m. (no perf Oct. 20); through Nov. 16. (323) 860-7300, lagaycenter.org/theatre.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Sept. 13. Continues through Nov. 24, 2013