Review: A Cry Too Far From Heaven, theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall
New Zealand applied the death penalty from 1842 to 1957, during which time 85 people were executed. “Not exactly prolific,” notes the hangman character facetiously, in this historical play by New Zealand company Invers Theatre.
But among them were two cases – Minnie Dean, hung for infanticide in 1895, and Victor Spencer, shot for desertion in 1918 – that stand as strong examples of why capital punishment is a profoundly flawed legal process.
Explored in parallel as a piece of drama – told mostly through monologues from the condemned as they wait on death row – these cases make an interesting study in guilt.
Dean, who took in unwanted children for money, hid the deaths of many of her charges – but had she not taken the children in they would have died anyway. Spencer abandoned his unit, but was broken by acute shellshock after months at the front.
Invers shines a spotlight on these stories in a plain and balanced manner, and leaves you to ponder their significance. It’s well written and confidently acted, and proves to be a thought-provoking 50 minutes.
Until 11 August. Today 4:05pm.
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