BWW Interview: LOST GIRLS' Tasha Lawrence Finds Her Way
Sparks fly in playwright John Pollono's riveting LOST GIRLS, a comic drama about a missing teenage daughter who's made off with the family car during a New Hampshire blizzard. It's a story about multiple maternal generations of a blue-collar family whose lives were derailed by their teenage pregnancies. The possibility that another generation will follow in their wake devastates them.
Tasha Lawrence plays Linda, the feisty grandmother who shares a home with her daughter, Maggie (Piper Perabo), and Maggie's teenage daughter. The bitter and sarcastic verbal jousting sets the tone of their blue-collar origins as they desperately enlist Maggie's ex-husband, a policeman named Lou (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), to help track down their daughter.
"One of the things I love the most about this play is the heart behind it," said Lawrence, whose rapid-fire speech betrays that she is also a licensed auctioneer. "These are people one would assume would be hard to like but they react straight from the heart. They're fighting for all the good things in life, they just go about it in a tough way," Lawrence said.
"They struggle with full hearts. I think these are people you want to see good things happen to. Linda's mother got pregnant as a teenager. Linda repeated the pattern and had Maggie, and Maggie continued the tradition by becoming a mother at age 16. The last thing they want to see is the 17-year-old repeat their mistakes," Lawrence said.
This family's resiliency and abiding love for one another is what ultimately saves them, Lawrence said. "They don't feel sorry for themselves or blame the world, they just keep putting one foot in front of the other and hope for the best. Linda's learned her lessons from her own mother and accepts her lot. She doesn't apologize, and I admire her strength."
Maggie's longest and strongest relationship has been with Lou, who she had been with for 17 years. Lou has since remarried to Penny (Meghann Fahy) a sweet-natured opposite to boisterous Maggie.
"Linda genuinely loves him and misses him in their lives," Lawrence said. "He's the father figure for my granddaughter. And surprisingly, Linda has bonded with Penny, two diametrically different women. I love developing that relationship on stage every night."
The tension over the missing teen is ratcheted up when they hear the radio report an accident involving multiple vehicles. The women beseech Lou to go looking for the girl.
"I love Linda. I think she's kind of a survivor, very smart. She hasn't had a lot of opportunity in life, she's lived hand to mouth from the get-go," said Lawrence. "Yet she continues to be someone who faces adversity. She puts one foot in front of the other and finds joy and solutions in any situation she's in."
LOST GIRLS will touch all women, regardless of economic status, Lawrence said.
"I think even her weaknesses women could recognize. Every woman can find a piece of themselves in Linda. She's full of good qualities, she just goes about it in an aggressive way. We got lemons? We make lemonade. She never back downs, questions herself or manipulates a situation. It's an honor to play her," Lawrence said.
"Linda believes in family, love, loyalty and everything good about the spirit of life. She embodies these things," Lawrence said. "These women are survivors; they never let circumstances get the best of them."
The play underscores the difficulty of maintaining good parental relationships, and brings home the importance of family despite making and acknowledging mistakes.
"I have one line that for me is very special," Lawrence said. "Linda is not necessarily apologizing to Mags, but she didn't have the skills to be the best mother. There's probably some sadness in her heart that she didn't do more. But she says, 'You're right Mags, you deserve better than me.'
"Mistakes get made and young love, first love imprints the rest of your life," Lawrence said. "There are consequences but you don't live in regret. You're thankful for what you have and forgiveness is important. Regret is a waste of time. Love is never a wrong thing, even if it goes sideways. It's a gift and you're lucky to have had it," said Lawrence.
A poignant scene of a teenage couple (Lizzy DeClement and Josh Green) in a run-of-the-mill hotel room reflects the power of young love and how its trajectory can steer relationships off course. They share past experiences and dream about their future, pledging to be there for one another when things look their bleakest. They exude young, hopeful love-a counterpoint to the other characters' disillusionment with love.
"These people are human beings. There's a universal commonality that people can recognize in themselves," Lawrence said. "They're not ideal people, they haven't had a lot of breaks but what they do have is love, a sense of humor and the innate ability to move forward. Through all this adversity, these people genuinely love each other and continue to live their lives with purpose," she said. "They're quite heroic."
The play's twist brings home the power of hope and love for all family members.
"I want audiences to go home, hug their families and celebrate all the love they have in this world," Lawrence said. "Even if you disagree, that's your family and you only get one in life."
Lost Girls is playing at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus