24/7 Theatre hosts As We Forgive Them by Richard Vergette from Pure Nightclub in The Printworks.
I have to say that my vision felt clouded at the start because of the venue being a trashy nightclub and the condom machine in the women’s toilet’s bleeping out of order, I decided to let go of that and judge the play based on it’s own merit, and after all at least in this nightclub they use condoms.
A teacher arrives at a state penitentiary to give lessons to, Lee Fenton, a convicted murderer classed as retarded. As the play unravels, we learn that the teacher, played by Vergette himself, is Congressman John Daniels and it was his daughter who was murdered by Lee.
All of the action takes place inside the prison’s interview room where the 3 scenes move from 2008 to 2016. We see the relationship between Daniels and Lee shifting, from an uninterested Lee with a focused Daniels, to the education of Lee in mid flow.
Lee reads a passage from One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest beautifully illustrating the irony of role reversal, reflecting what we can see happening within Daniels and Lee’s relationship. At this point I realise I am unsure as to either of their motives, but I start to empathise with Lee and see that boundaries are blurring. At first I am convinced that forgiveness is taking place.
As the play moves through various subtleties, confusion as to what the real truth is behind either of the characters becomes more obscure. Daniels bounces between the role of a passionate educator to a media hungry states congressman who is desperately trying to further his career and reputation. Lee emerges from a simpleton to a real thinker, who can read Daniels, whether he reads him correctly or not is something I’m still not sure about.
It left me as all good art should with plenty of thoughts especially about the nature of broadening the mind and if that was the ultimate punishment one who does something without thought could face.
I’m still thinking about it.