Coyote on a Fence

The tragic events of September 11th have given rise to a worldwide debate concerning the nature of terrorism, self-defense and retribution. One component of this debate is the question, "Under what circumstances do human beings have the right to take the life of others?" This question, however, is not only pertinent to conduct between states, but is equally compelling when addressing the conduct between the individual and the state, specifically concerning the issue of capital punishment.

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As is so often the case with the Curious Theatre Company, their unrelenting efforts to explore socially relevant subject matter turns their current production, Bruce Graham's Coyote on a Fence, into a timely and thought provoking choice. In it we are taken inside a contemporary maximum security prison to death row, where Graham's thorough research into actual cases provides a highly detailed and gritty basis for the play.

Directed by Chip Walton, Coyote on a Fence moves efficiently between revealing glimpses of inmates in their cells and at recreation, a guard at work and after hours, and a journalist pursuing interviews about life on the inside, making great use of the Acoma Center's two-tiered stage and intimate balcony seating.

Gene Gillette as Bobby Reyburn, a neo-Nazi convicted of murdering 37 blacks while burning down a church, paints a riveting portrait of an abused psychotic who gleefully regales in his guilt. Terry Burnsed holds his seething passion just below the surface of his circumspect John Brennan, who awaits his date with the chair for a murder he denies. Judy Phelan Hill's taciturn and hardened Shawna DuChamps, the guard, provides a strategically revealing counterpoint to the prisoners' and the press' self-serving views. Chris Reid, as Sam Fried, a reporter for the New York Times, delightfully reveals an unexpected edge to his presumably helpful character.

In this time of murder, revenge and moral righteousness, Coyote on a Fence gets right to the point. Curious Theatre Company's production, directed by Chip Walton, runs through October 27th. 303-623-0524.


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