No. 2 revolves around cigar-smoking matriarch Nanna Maria who calls her New Zealand Fijian family together for a feast at which she plans to name her successor. It's a day of drinking, quarrelling, romancing, singing and break-dancing. The play stars 22-year-old Madeleine Sami, who won the New Zealand Theatre Award for Best Actress for another Fraser play, Bare.
The American play The Laramie Project is based on a real homophobic hate crime murder that caused a worldwide media frenzy. In October 1998, Matthew Shepard (pictured), a 21-year-old gay college student at the University of Wyoming, was found lashed to a fence in the hills outside the town of Laramie. He had been pistol-whipped, beaten and left barely breathing. Never regaining consciousness, Shepard died five days later.
Over the course of two years, playwright Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project interviewed 200 Laramie townspeople and boiled down 400 hours of transcripts into the play involving 79 characters. The UK production is performed by the Connecticut-based group The Red Chair Players, directed by Linda Ames Key.
Other 2002 Fringe First winners that have opened or are about to open in London include Victory at the Dirt Palace and Horse Country at Riverside Studios, 100 at Soho Theatre and Iron at the Royal Court. Meanwhile, 2002 Edinburgh festival hits descending on the West End include the just opened Auntie and Me, starring comedian Alan Davies at Wyndhams, Gyles Brandreth's musical revue Zipp! (at the Duchess from 24 January) and Off-Broadway Shakespeare update The Bomb-itty of Errors (at the New Ambassadors from 24 April).
- by Terri Paddock
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