CalArts Festival Theater
A tight, vicious, and violent piece of multimedia theatre about the fragility of intimacy. Can you truly know someone without peering underneath their skin? Fred uncovers his wife’s infidelity within a few hours of discovering he can remove his face. When he peels back the layers of his skin, Annie sees something surprisingly more beautiful than she could have imagined. Through force and brutal language, the duo continue to rip away the protective barriers they have built between them, revealing a profound new level of intimacy. But what else does Annie have to hide?
£8 / £6 (concessions)
Mask is an unusual piece of theatre. The plot revolves around Eddie, a man who has discovered he can ‘remove his face’ a few hours before discovering his wife’s infidelity. The piece intends to explore questions of intimacy and identity, ‘Can you truly know someone without peering underneath their skin’, however the sparse dialogue and confused plot mean these questions are hardly touched upon. The actual dramatic interest of Mask lies in the visual power play between Annie and Eddie, husband and wife. The beautiful choreography and inventive staging mean Mask is truly an aesthetic treat, if not a necessarily dramatic one.
The staging is entirely composed of a white curtain-like contraption onto which videos, mainly colours and images, are projected throughout the play. I’m not sure as to the significance of the images but the overall effect is eerie and powerful. The use of light in creating silhouettes behind the curtain is particularly effective, especially when depicting physical violence. Watching a series of blows via silhouette is a strangely uncomfortable experience, perhaps more so than watching them on stage. Both the designer Nina Caussa Rius and the choreographer Sandy Simona must be applauded for their creativity.
The plot lets Mask down. The clichéd notion of a ‘real self’ that can be revealed by ‘peeling away’ a layer of skin seems contrived and bizarre and the text does not elucidate it. The dynamic between Annie and Eddie is interesting enough to render the ‘mask’ concept pointless, it only adds a level of surrealism to the piece that is unnecessary. It would be more powerful to watch a normal married couple rip themselves apart, instead we are distracted by Eddie telling us he can actually ‘remove his face’.
Mask is a visually arresting and powerful piece of physical choreography, with a script as creative as the performers this company could really shine.
Rating: Three stars"”