Randolph College students bring insights and some strong performances to Howard Barker's difficult text
WOUNDS TO THE FACE by Howard Barker (Randolph College). At Annex Theatre. July 8 at 9:15 pm, July 9 at 2:45 pm, July 11 at 8:45 pm, July 12 at 7 pm, July 13 at 4 pm, July 15 at noon. See listing. Rating: NNN
Randolph College’s third-year students deftly tackle this difficult play by British playwright Howard Barker, who prefers poetic language and historical characters to present-day talk.
The show uses vignettes to flush out its theme of how a face is a mask that hides as much as it reveals. The story of a soldier’s face ravaged by a wartime accident is especially moving.
With such short scenes, the ensemble has to make the most out of Barker’s dense lines, and they mostly deliver impressive performances.
What hurts some actors, though, are blocking directions positioning their backs to a third of the audience during pivotal moments (the Annex Theatre can be tricky to perform in). A few clunky transitions can also take you out of those interactions momentarily.
Keep in mind that Barker’s dialogue isn’t for everyone. Go into the show realizing characters always channel their inner poet to divulge their emotional states.