The horrors are stacked to the heavens in Matthew Lombardo’s play “High” at Hartford TheaterWorks. The grisly list of crimes described in this dark drama about addiction and victimization includes rape, murder, child molestation and child prostitution.
High stars Kathleen Turner as Sister Jamison Connolly, who’s a nun of a certain age who has her own demons that she’s been sorting through, and she’s asked by her superior — her priest — to take on a 19-year-old drug addict at a place that basically deals with people with much less severe issues. And she tries to get out of it and — the language in this is very un-priest and nun-like, but the acting, especially in the part of the 19-year-old who plays Colin, is terrific. His name is Evan Jonigkeit, and he plays the 19-year-old, very troubled drug addict. This kid is just phenomenal. It really is his show, even though she’s the big name, and she’s okay in it. The problem with Kathleen Turner as far as I’m concerned is she’s kind of a one-note actress, and if you like that note — it really worked, for example, in Body Heat and in Romancing the Stone — and this, it actually serves the part fairly well in that she’s a woman with some demons and you have the feeling that her one-notedness is to keep the demons at bay as much as anything else. But this is really the kid’s show. But he is terrific in it. He very well may be the best actor of the year in this one. The play itself is, if you read the author’s notes, turns out to be semi-autobiographical in that he was a man who sort of got instantly hooked on drugs the first time he tried them at age 36 and his life spiraled out of control. It’s a thought-provoking play. It’s not easy. The language is certainly pretty rough, especially coming out of the the mouth of a nun, as the kid notes, but it’s great theatre. I’d give it four stars.