Monday, March 30, 2009

Caritas Lost, Caritas Found

Andy Hallett

1975 - 2009

From the moment Angel enters the demon karaoke bar Caritas, in Season 2's opening episode "Judgment, the series is transformed. A watershed episode for several reasons, spreading new hues across the palette of the series' story imagination, from this moment forth, it erupts into philosophical full color.

The proprietor -- The Host, later named Lorne, Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan by birth -- reads auras via the subject's singing. And he is lime green, gay-coded, possessed of a lovely tenor and unquenchable thirst for sea breeze cocktails. Andy Hallett played Lorne with patience, kindness and a love of humanity that fairly bled compassion through his red contact lenses. Too often relegated to comic relief, Hallett would not let Lorne become catty or abrasive, and imbued his character's gabby, pop-music fixated patter with something that hoisted it beyond sass -- he communicated a sense that Lorne babbled in showtune references because he revered the beauty he had found in even the glossiest manifestations of human culture. Though new to our dimension, though younger than his vampire friend, though not even human, when it came to matters of the heart, Lorne was the wisest and most humane of Team Angel. And he was the only guy who could call Angel "Milk Dud".

On Angel, Hallett had a difficult task, an enormous amount of conflicting character to assimilate and convey, and very little space in which to maneuver. But he sang, carried simultaneous notes of humor and sadness, built this demon with a song in his heart (and his heart, er, in his butt) as a creature too generous toward everyone but himself.

Andy Hallett died of heart failure on March 29, 2009. He was 33 years old. So to Mr. Hallett -- to Krevelornswath of the Deathwok Clan, to the Host of Hosts -- raise a sea breeze. And please: fresh grapefruit juice. Which requires a real live grapefruit. One you must cut and squeeze, not pour from a can.