nytheatre.com review by Michael Colby Jones
One of the real joys of
FringeNYC is the chance to be introduced to new talent from all over the
country. And so it goes with the production of Red Head, by
Matthew Holtzclaw, being produced by The MatchBook Theatre Company. This
collection of young guns from Florida State University have come to town
to show how hard work and attention to detail can bring a small show to
the big city stage with energy and excitement. The play itself shows
real promise and an ease with dialogue that predicts good things for the
August 15, 2003
Red Head speaks to how a person’s individual childhood can be drastically affected by the family around them. After the gruesome murder of her father right before her eyes, Mary emotionally retreats into herself rendering herself blind, and thus forever in the care of her family. At the tender age of 29, her brother—with the help of a nursing service provided long distance by their mother—is the primary caretaker, if you could ever call how he treats her as caring for her.
Though at times the message is delivered in a somewhat simple and indulgent way, Holtzclaw possesses a complex style and depth to his writing that makes watching this piece a delight. That being said, the real strength of this show is in the performances. The entire cast has a firm grip on their craft. It could be the combined skills of the directors, Holtzclaw and Nick Chase, that guide the performances to such fine focus—and if so, kudos to them—but it seems this cast can claim ownership of some real talent. It’s uncommon to see such patience and specificity in young actors. They truly give each moment its due, and make the language feel natural and easy. Of special note are Andre Holland (as Blake), Garry Burgoyne (Stanlon), and Kathleen McElfresh (Christy). Holland has a charisma that moves the audience around with his thoughts in style. Burgoyne keeps it simple, which enriches his performance with a patient elegance. And McElfresh has a grace that supercedes and informs her very specific acting choices. If space allowed I’d spout the individual strengths of the whole cast, as they all have great promise, and bring this story of a troubled girl and her difficult brother to life. I look forward to what this company brings to us next.