Coyote on a Fence
By Bruce Graham
Royal Exchange Theatre Studio
Duchess Theatre, West End
Designer: Matt Atwood
Lighting Designer : Aideen Malone
Composer: Simon Slater
Cast: Ben Cross, Alex Ferns, Eric Loren, Jo Martin
Set against a series of unseen executions, this is a slippery little piece that - as it unravels issues of crime and punishment, innocence and guilt, justice and injustice - ends up not only challenging its characters' certainties but those of the audience as well. In a lesser production, the play's faults would seem more glaring, but Sarah Esdaile's is blisteringly good - full of a very un-English coiled energy and making clever use of the studio space. Great performances all round from Jo Martin as the prison guard, Eric Loren as the journalist, Ben Cross as John Brennan and Alex Ferns as the childlike Bobby, a man who is appalling and appealing in equal measure.
In Sarah Esdaile's subtle production, the human frailties of people accused of the worst crimes, spending the rest of their lives under the shadow of a death warrant, come across with immense clarity.
The director of this UK premiere, Sarah Esdaile, probably has no more experience of the reality of America’s death factories than I do, but any doubts are blown away by Cross’ angry articulacy and Ferns’ discreetly manic performance, which tops Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Sunday Times ****
Bruce Graham's prison drama is ignited in Sarah Esdaile's thoughtful production, by two marvellous performances from Ben Cross and Alex Ferns
...a challenging but compulsively watchable production that proves the truth of the adage that there are at least two sides to every story. Utterly engrossing, profound and often very funny.
Manchester Evening News