KATHLEEN TURNER’s Genius Glows In HIGH
There is much to be said about a play that kept me thinking for hours. Indeed, HIGH kept me and my theater going companion arguing about the play for well over an hour. For HIGH is a play which works on many levels. Often, it is not easy to tell who is truly good and truly bad, as well as raising and perhaps answering some questions about the Catholic Church. However, unquestionably, HIGH serves as a platform for great actors. Great actors working their craft are onstage in HIGH at the Parker Playhouse, great actors to say the least.
HIGH seems to be the story Sister Jamison Connelly, a plain clothes wearing nun, with a ‘checkered’ past, who is now also a rehabilitation counselor. Her colleague, Father DelPapp is responsible for bringing into her care his nephew Cody; a drug addicted, murderous, gay hustler, 19 years of age I believe, who meets with Sister Connelly, as an opportunity to avoid an extended stay in the big house.
Playwright Matthew Lombardo has structured his play tightly, and with great tension. HIGH is not the greatest play one is likely to see. However, I do believe Mr. Lombardo in his writing, was creating that platform for actors of the HIGHest order and it ultimately leaves us wondering and feeling, perhaps, quite drained.
All the elements that have come together for HIGH leave us with dramatic moments we shall not soon forget. Every scene, every one, between Cody and Sister Connelly is nothing short of riveting. I do not think I blinked once during any of their scenes which comprise the majority of the play.
Director Rob Ruggiero certainly did many things right. It is often difficult to tell who did what in the theater. Mr. Ruggiero gets the credit for guiding a play and its performances to supreme heights. He is either marvelous at working with gifted actors, or perhaps, he simply knew when to stay out of the way.
Tim Altmeyer’s Father DelPapp is a cunning display in a work written to HIGHlight the other two actors with whom he shares the play. Heck, the fact that we notice the fineness of Mr. Altmeyer’s performance at all is a testament to the man, because his costars are most often engaged in theatrical fireworks we do not often see in our theater.
Just what is it about Kathleen Turner? I love her and after last night’s performance I will always remain her worshipful slave. Greeted at the Parker with thunderous entrance applause, Ms. Turner received a seemingly endless, cheering, tearful standing ovation during the curtain calls. She had us in her pocket and the palm of her hand too from the play’s outset. Ms. Turner is likely that rare breed, a true acting genius. I would swear I saw a glow of brilliance surrounding her every word, her every movement. Her salty tongued Sister Connelly is a divine (pardon the pun) creation. Ms. Turner’s talent is astonishing and it is virtually impossible to take your eyes off her in this magnificently nuanced performance. May she grace the stages of the world forever.
Evan Jonigkeit, Ms. Turner’s sparring partner as Cody, blew my socks off and nearly the roof of the theater with his extraordinary turn as the very sexy, and plagued drug addict. Yes, his much publicized nudity is stunning. When he first removed his clothes, not a gasp or cough for that matter could be heard throughout the Parker, such was our entrancement with what was going on up there onstage. The calculation of his performance is a magical match for The Divine Kathleen Turner. Mr. Jonigkeit’s Cody is a part that is easily over acted, or underplayed. He doesn’t miss a beat. Wow! I was expecting greatness from Ms. Turner, I was never expecting the always shattering work presented to us by this young actor in HIGH.