The Hanging Man is Improbable Theatre’s vision of a modern day miracle play, an Everyman for the 21st century.
Braff hangs by his neck from the end of a rope, but is unable to end his ruined life. It seems that death does not want him yet – a man so stubborn and inflexible that even the tightest of nooses and the tallest of falls cannot choke or break his rigid neck. He is taken, still hanging, on a journey as his life is paraded below him and around him. Sometimes he is lowered down to play himself – sometimes chairs and characters are hoisted up and scenes are played in the air – but throughout, Braff is never released from the tight grip of the rope. However much he wants to, this man will just not die. And as he hangs the world grows older, the years come and go. Eventually, impossibly, love comes his way again, but this time Braff embraces the change. Now, for the first time he wants to release himself from the rope, leave the house and breathe the air. Ah… but it doesn’t work like that. His stiff inflexible body has softened with his newfound optimism, and the thick rope slowly throttles him. Braff ascends up to heaven – a sweet bittersweet ending.
Ridiculous, beautiful, and funny, the production combines the principals, vision, and feeling of Improbable’s small-scale trilogy (70 Hill Lane, Coma, Spirit) with the story telling and visual boldness of the repertory based productions that first brought Artistic Directors Julian Crouch, Lee Simpson, and Phelim McDermott together. It incorporates a big, bold and rich visual design along with a sound scape by New York-based sound designer Darron West.
The Hanging Man is a production of Improbable Theatre, a co-production with The West Yorkshire Playhouse, Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University with support from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Walker Art Center through a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation’s Multi-Arts Production Fund with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Lyric Hammersmith, and Weiner Festwochen.
The Hanging Man is a triumph of theatre, at turns generously funny and inescapably moving...a startlingly original production performed by a company that is totally at the top of their game.