“That Face” Thrills and Fascinates

“That Face”, written by Polly Stenham and directed by Neno Pervan, ran in the Barnelle Theatre from October 25 to November 3. Students in the six-person play presented a haunting story about the deterioration of a family caught up in their mother’s very real insanity, and the ways they’re forced to adapt to their familial strife.

The play begins with us nearly at a boiling point for the family. The first scene of the show jars viewers with a sinister scene: Mia, and a fellow boarding-school classmate, Izzy, are hazing a new girl in their dorm when Mia takes things too far. When her school discovers what she’s done, they call her mother, Martha, only to catch her deep in a bender and unfit to parent Mia. Concerned for her safety, the school calls Mia’s long estranged father, Hugh, who’s fled Martha and his old life to start a new family in Hong Kong. When Mia tells her brother, Henry, that their father is returning, Henry takes it upon himself to try his best to pick up the pieces and scramble to fix his family as best he can.

But Henry’s efforts are doomed from the start: its apparent that Martha really isn’t fit to be a mother; thus, the tension of the show focuses not on whether Hugh can be fooled or not, but rather in revealing the extent of the damage that this family’s dysfunction has wrought on each member of it. The show begins with the twisted scene of a prank gone too far and carries its unsettling energy the entire way through. That Face pulled viewers to the center of their family’s drama, with a dark comedic edge and a poignant depiction of the bonds of a family – even one as troubled as Martha’s.

Olivia Twiford as Mia
Anthony Garcia as Henry
Ketino Christopher as Martha/Alice
Cat Hayes as Izzy
Isaac Tackman as Hugh
Rachel Kaftan as Martha/Alice

Photos by Jason Munoz