On the Road With

BY Advocate Contributors

September 14 2010 2:20 PM ET



Jeremy Bobb listens to Christina Rouner as she rehearses the role of Judy Shepard in part 2, Ten Years Later. It’s a gorgeous portrayal. Judy talking about Matthew is, of course, one of the moments where the play really soars. Christina does impeccable work, and she certainly has the capacity to steal the show here. A lesser actress might be tempted to do that with grand displays of emotion. Yet in Christina’s restrained performance, it is not the actress and her work we see, but a mother remembering the son she loves. Her work as Judy serves the larger story.

This kind of acting is ensemble work at its very best. The plays are quite balanced, and everyone has a number of moments like this one in each of the plays, where their piece of the story becomes the center for a while. A hilarious turn. A moment of depth and subtlety. A complex speech. A dramatic crescendo. When it’s your moment the plays require tremendous craft. Ultimately, though, when you see a good production of The Laramie Project and now Laramie: 10 Years Later, even when they are stunningly performed, you walk away with a sense of the town, of Matthew, and of the story rather than of stunning performances. Clearly, every play has some of this quality, and actors should always ultimately serve the story they tell. But these two plays have the ensemble work built into their very structure, and companies ignore it at their peril.

Tags: Theater