A rampant Ms. Blethyn gets the biggest cheer at the end. In addition to being the cast's biggest name, she's also quite happy to chew the scenery in the climactic confrontation, and it is evidently delicious scenery. But Mr. Buggy's bravura performance is the bedrock of the piece. Tugging at her heartstrings, pinching ours. In the first blush of trying to impress Hazel, he turns it full on: "Ever since my wife…I feel the toll of father time…abysms of it…I see Cassidy, an old chum…we meet equidistant between Epsom and here for our moratoriums…barely throw two words to one another, but it's company."
Ms. Blethyn's Gladys is just as memorable in the end, though, a classic tough-but-bruisable old broad who ploughs through in spite of a raw deal, but ultimately rips herself open to reveal the raw wounds of what she's been dealt. (Literally, in fact—last night she received a nasty-looking cut on her knee during the final tussle. It only added to the icy shock.)
It's all bloody unlikely anyway, dreamy and nightmarish, patched on the surface with soap opera clichés; Hazel's fate doesn't make a lot of sense, and there are one (maybe even one-and-a-half) too many endings. But it all adds up to a tense and deeply satisfying story told via a wonderfully sensitive production, with a cast that provides a clinic in A-level acting from the British Isles.
Haunted runs through January 2 at 59E59 Theaters in New York.