The Girl With The Red Hair is playing at the Alchemical 104 West 14th St. until December 15th. After a sold out one night performance in July, Anthony Lauria brings this great production back with for the most part the same cast.
The Girl with the Red Hair tells the story of Hayley Jones (Casey Hartnett), a young woman admitted into a psychiatric facility who slowly begins to lose her grip on reality. Struggling to find her own sanity, the audience watches in horror at how schizophrenia (the play says Bi-Polar disorder), moves her toward ruien.
Anthony Lauria deftly brings forward the many disorders that people face in psychiatric facilities. From drug addiction, to mental problems and on to sexual addiction. Lauria in this performance differed in that he even shows the Doctor with issues. Vivian Cardone plays the mysterious psychiatrist who in the last performance back in July only dawned a lab coat. Lauria, who wrote and directed, had Ms. Cardone in various outfits to show that she too had some issues with her life and the plain cloths made her one of the people amongst the people.
The close to three hour performance touches on the many issues of the institution itself. We squarely focus on Haley's loneliness, however, we see her scared, angry side as well. Not one for authority figures, Ms. Jones is constantly at odds with both the nurse and the psychiatrist. Mr. Lauria constantly throughout the show, keeps the tension tantamount within the performance. This tension is as much the show's performance as is the slow and sliding life of Hayley.
Face To Face productions has done incredible work under the tutelage of Anthony Lauria. The Girl with the Red Hair is a dynamic piece that is a show watchers' show. It has many twists and turns and is a play that you really need to watch as a passive audience member... guessing the end will only be fruitless.
Under Sophia Licata and Rachel Epstein, this industrial lighting hits the audience with a hard reflection of the patients life and lets the audience in to see where her life will lead to. A hard based reality of the actors before us; these lights are an obtuse reminder of the problems before us to see and observe. We do not envy the psychiatrist, yet we dislike her not because of her cold dose of reality toward her patient, but because she cannot help Haley, no one can after all.
Casey Hartnett reprises her role from July and once again she owns this role. Whether she is bouncing off the walls or telling the nurse what she thinks about the hospitals rules and regulations, Hartnett is on the mark and clicks on all cylinders throughout the performance. Both sheepish and yet strong, she shows us the many sides to her multiple personalities... she brings them front and center and it feels like we are seeing different characters within the one character.
The play differs slightly from July to now. A younger Casey was added to the plot. This too works nicely into the performance. We see what Haley was as a young girl to some degree and given more insight as to how she was raised. In the past we only had the mother to rely on and she was to self centered to extract any information out of. With the younger Haley, we can piece her personality together a little better.
The Girl with the Red Hair has for the most part a very good ensemble cast. The believability factor is always there throughout the performance. The characters all resonate throughout the performance in this potpourri of adventure and the many personalities that we face. All the actors have their own method and this is what makes the play so memorable and effective. The plethora of personalities/some with split personalities makes this an enjoyable watch.