POST: 'Barrier Islands' - who killed the young women?

What’s it about?

Two actors play six characters living on an island where the bodies of eight young women have just been discovered strangled and buried on the shore.

What'd I experience?

You’re frazzled and 15 minutes late to the show but you’re greeted by a very friendly dog at the door. You want to play with the dog because you so badly crave a break from humans. You distractedly give your name to the reception, wondering if you can’t just stay there with the beautiful dog jumping at your feet. You’re told there’s no late seating and taken, with the dog, to an alternate entrance of the theatre. You resist the urge to (half-jokingly) ask if the dog can watch the show with you. You’re taken to a part of theatre you're not familiar with and therefore can’t quite name - sound booth? light room? control room? You’re instructed to watch the play through the half-open window of this room until there’s opportunity for you to sneak over to a seat.

There is a young man with a laptop and a script surrounded by several machines with many knobs and switches, like an airplane cockpit. The man, relaxed but still focused, turns the pages of his script as the actors say their lines on stage and glances at the screen of his laptop. You stand by the door, very stiff, lest you fuck up the whole show with a swing of your elbow or the sound of a yawn.

You try to focus on the stage, it’s a little hard to hear the actors, a man and a woman, from this far back and with a glass pane between you and the stage. You’re so caught up in trying to hear the actors that you’re caught by surprise when the lights dim and the man next to you finally turns to you and you realize this is your time to get to a seat. Before you go, you notice that it was the man who dimmed the lights and turned on the music.

You find a seat right outside the room and sit down feeling a little jaded. Usually you rely on theatre to take you to other worlds, but tonight, having seen the man in the room dim the lights, you’re reminded that it’s all an illusion, that there is only one world and that what happens on stage can happen to you, too.

The lights return and the same actors are now sitting at a bar, but they’re different people. They talk, they go home together and the lights go off again and music plays. You see the actors changing clothes and when the lights return, they’re different people again. With each dimming of the light the actors become a new set of people: an alcoholic police detective and her concerned partner, a drug-addled husband and his worn out wife, a recent convict and the woman who loves him. The darkness of the story and the dimness of the lights reminds you of some indie murder mystery film you might have seen or made up in your head. With every outfit change, you and the rest of the theatre get a little closer to answering the overarching question: who killed the young women buried on the beach?

By the final scene, everyone knows who the killer is. When the lights dim for the last time, people around you clap and stand up. You're stuck to your seat for awhile remembering that you are a woman, that you are young, that you could end up dead on a beach. But ill-equipped you are to change these things, and so you finally walk out of the theatre with the real mystery on your mind - will justice ever be served?

Watch the artists talk about Barrier Islands


Want to see it?

$18 Tickets

Barrier Islands
@ The Wild Project
thru Dec. 5