The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance at the Park Theatre
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, one of the greatest stories of the Wild West, is currently being performed on stage for the first time. Teleport yourself to 1890 to the tinpot town of Twotrees in the American west in this classic tale of good versus evil: one man seeks to overcome the tyranny of Liberty Valence in a settlement on the edge of civilisation where the shotgun is law, whisky is bountiful and all’s fair in love and a fair fight.
Ransome Doster, played by Oliver Lansley, is a scholar travelling west when Neanderthal cowboy Bert Barricune (Paul Albertson) rescues him from the unforgiving plains where the town’s tormentor Liberty Valance (James Marlowe) and henchmen left him for dead. Arriving at the saloon of barkeep and hillbilly Hallie Jackson (Niamh Walsh) – the object of Barricune’s affections – Doster is given much needed respite; there he meets Jim Mosten, Jackson’s lifelong friend and employee. Upon uncovering Mosten’s remarkable hidden talent, Doster educates him in the works of literary greats, absorbing Jackson’s bristly charms on the way. But there’s one person who doesn’t take kindly to a foreigner from the city educating a black man, installing big ideas in his small, lawless town. And nobody, not even the local marshall, wants to stand against outlaw Valance. That is until it becomes clear that Valance wants to act out his vendetta. Ransome has a decision to make – run or stand up for what he believes in and face him at dawn. But who will help him?
Producer Jethro Compton writes, directs and ultimately creates a compelling Western, transferring techniques of storytelling on film to the stage with resounding success. The singular set is simplistically rustic but stunningly effective – not once do we miss the scene changes a camera lens can bring. The characters are believable, the acting ridiculously good. Every pause, raise of an eyebrow, touch of a brow brims over with meaning and tension. Easily registered in the Park Theatre’s seating of some 200, a fantastic venue in Finsbury Park hosting everything you will need for an entertaining evening – good wine, good food and good entertainment. An especially impromptu but welcome touch is the shot of whisky bestowed on you upon entering, preparing you for the spirit of this shoot-em-up show.
Boasting evocative vocals, music transporting us to a time and place where lawlessness was the law, and star-spangled acting before a backdrop of brilliant narration by Robert Vaughn – whose voice is simply outstanding, reminiscent of the old west – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance will have you perched on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Just who did shoot Liberty Valance?
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence is at the Park Theatre until 22nd June 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence here: