City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The State Versus John Hayes Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 02 August 2013

Lucy Roslyn in The State Versus John Hayes
Show details
C nova
Bearded Theatre
Running time: 
Lucy Roslyn (writer), Richard Warren (director), Tracy Mathewson (lighting designer), Joe Bennett (music)
Lucy Roslyn

It is 1959. The prison is Huntsville, Texas. Elyese Dukie (Lucy Roslyn) is on death row for the murder of two people.

Long drawling evocative blues guitar sounds playing Confunion Blues by Joe Bennett take you right to the stark single cell and iron bed of death row prisoner 11456. The bespoke music brilliantly captures the essence of a musical style that has become associated with US prison life.

On the stage set at C Nova, two of the cell’s walls are the stage’s black curtains. The other two are the L shaped seating that make the audience the eyes and ears of the death row confessional of this double killer.

In Roslyn’s impressive debut writing for theatre that she based on extensive research into real-life female American killers and their lives on death row, she sits shoe-free and vulnerable, her boots askew below the bed. In spite of loud intrusive music from an adjacent space, Roslyn performed her solo piece beautifully without a flinch.

Speaking directly in what sounds like a convincing Southern States accent, Roslyn holds her gaze with her audience like a charmingly hypnotic serpent. She is the dark flipside of Hollywood’s Calamity Jane; a dangerous Doris Day.

Roslyn’s androgyny is unsanitised and her body language is brilliantly observed and perfectly captured. Her fingers and thumb are frequently pointed to pistol shape, cowboy style, yet holding the clear menace that she is not playing.

In this raw and riveting piece, this woman who confesses to being more her father than her mother, divulges the existence and complexities around her male alter ego, John Hayes. With quiet subtlety, Roslyn shifts to and portrays the other characters like her stammering lawyer and her guard and virtual lover, Abigail.

This is a compelling sensitive study of sexuality that shows the dangerous lengths that can be gone to and indeed have been gone to for love or what is perceived as love. Roslyn makes a real connection through this dark labyrinth. Prepare to be captured.

31 July – 26 August, 9.50pm (1 hour)

£8.50 - £10.50 / Concessions £6.50- £7.50