Reason enough to see Matthew Lombardo’s HIGH (at the Cutler Majestic through Dec. 11th) is Kathleen Turner as a foul mouthed nun at war with the world and her faith. Add to that the stellar performances of Timothy Altmeyer as the director of a Catholic treatment center and the astonishing Evan Jonigkeit as the addict who doesn’t want the nun’s help.
The material in HIGH follows the same sensationalistic formula you’ll find on television’s CSI dramas. You know Sister Jamie will unravel all the lurid details behind young Cody’s addiction like a dogged forensic investigator but what sets HIGH above television fare is her unorthodox approach. Lombardo wraps the story around issues of faith. “Fear of the unknown,” Sister tells the boy, “is the ultimate rush.”
Although the nudity and violence in Act I seemed out of character and gratuitous to me, Act II has a number of clever revelations and a thought provoking ending. Turner has a lovely prayer in Act II in which she bullies and bargains with God to “meet [her] half way.”
Alas, the acoustics at the Cutler Majestic made hearing a bit difficult when Turner walked to the opposite side of the stage. I wish I had heard all of the witty dialogue but the laughter on the other side of the audience and the silence on mine meant we missed that delicious delivery and some of Lombardo’s redemptive humor. Hopefully the powers “on high” at the theater can adjust the sound for the rest of the run because you don’t want to miss one second of that famous honey and molasses, sultry, world weary voice.