The Laramie Project | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Laramie Project 

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Wyoming, the "Equality State," seems to be the place for gay tragedy. Though Ang Lee's Oscar contender speaks for closeted cowboys everywhere, Moises Kaufman's 2000 play reminds us that a real-life tragedy happened there in 1998. Where Brokeback Mountain ends with a murder, The Laramie Project begins with one: the homophobic killing of 21-year-old college student Matthew Shepard. But the townsfolk's reactions--as captured by Kaufman's original Tectonic Theater Project actors, who interviewed and portrayed them--count as much as re-creating the murder. So the challenge of producing this work is keeping what is essentially thirdhand storytelling immediate. Sean Hargadon's taut, true revival for the Janus Theatre surmounts every obstacle to deliver a valuable, compassionate night at the theater. Through 3/19: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Athenaeum Theatre, first-floor studio, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500, $15.

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