nytheatre.com review by Roger Nasser
March 19, 2009
On February 12 1993, two-year-old James Bulger was kidnapped from the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, England. His mutilated dead body was found two days later on a railway line. James Bulger's killers were two 10-year-old boys. The story was played over and over on the news in many countries. After serving 96 months the murderers were released from Juvenile Detention. In cases like this the perpetrators are forbidden to ever meet again, by the British Justice System.
Studio 42's Gaugleprixtown is inspired by these events. Gaugleprixtown is the imagined meeting of the two killers ten years after their release. It takes place in a fishing boat in a lake in western Massachusetts. Two men are sitting in the boat, apparently going on a fishing trip. During the trip Adrian and Richard try to fish and talk. They talk about their lives and what happened that day back when they were younger. They catch a red shoe and a pink book bag, which are both extremely dry considering that they were submerged in water. Then they catch Lucy and things really start.
The scenic design by Martin Andrew is extremely beautiful. The set establishes a somewhat dreamlike feel that really helps the play out. It creates a limbo-like place that these characters are stuck in to try to examine what happened. Peter Hoerburger's lighting design and Sharath Patel's sound design are also spectacular and help set the mood for the show.
The actors do a fine job, and Devon Berkshire is a real standout as Lucy. Berkshire has great stage presence. I wish she was in the show from beginning to end. The other actors are fine but I felt that there should have been more tension between them and I didn't really believe their relationship.
I was really excited to see Gaugleprixtown after reading the press release. It has a great premise—but the play that I was expecting was not the play I was watching. I really wanted to like the show and I was waiting for something spectacular to happen, but sadly, it never did. Gaugleprixtown is advertised to be inspired by the James Bulger case but it is very loosely based. And right when I thought that the show was going somewhere, it ended.
Gaugleprixtown, written by Andrew Muir and directed by David F. Chapman, is making its American debut. I wasn't really sure exactly how the show fit with what it was inspired by after viewing it. I understood the play a little bit better after reading the author's and director's notes in the program but felt that the performance should have spoken for itself—I should have gotten their intention from what I was watching not from reading the program.