By David Walters
For some people, high school never ends. The growing pains as they come into themselves never cease and the soulful hurts that lead to deep desires for vengeance never disappear keeping them stuck in high school their whole lives.
Wounded, now playing at SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam St.), running as part of the 2024 International Fringe Encore Series and brought to New York from the 2023 Hollywood Fringe Festival, is a memory play. A memory play in that the two main characters rehash what they were and weren’t to each other so many years ago in high school, seeking to find connection in the lonely worlds that life has cast them in. Nothing really happens except that we find out that sometimes the hurt is too deep and a wound can never find closure, especially when it’s continually agitated by the lies that we tell ourselves and each other to shield us from the pain.
Robert (Shaw Jones) was released from prison six months ago, having been sentenced for reckless endangerment due to alcohol and driving (maimed a little girl). He returned to his small Texas town and is having trouble finding work or fitting back in to the society he grew up in and is being treated like an outcast. He goes to Carrol’s house in order to seek sympathy and support in what life has dished out to him. Carrol (Craig Taggart has created a fantastic character that is absolutly incongruous with the world), who is queer with a capital Q, has had to move back home to take care of his aging mother and lives in a house not too far from her, but “not close enough that she can hear me scream.” Carrol is a person who is too much as he lays out a feast of treats and snacks for Robert that could feed twenty people. They were high school classmates a long time ago and even though they were both gay, they were high schoolers first and inflicted pain that both carry in their souls to this day.
Wounded touches on many themes, but the strongest, that just because your gay doesn’t mean it’s okay that you’re raped, is the linchpin that leads them both to their impasse with each other and an ending that leaves its characters still stuck in high school.
Starring Craig Taggart and Shaw Jones and sound design by Adam Matthew.
Run time is 75 minutes.