On Wednesday, “The Curse of the Starving Class” debuted in the Pit. As the season debut for the King’s Theatrical Society (KTS), the show was helmed by seasoned KTS contributor Zach Greenham.
The play was written by Sam Sheppard and first debuted in March 1978. It tells the story of a mother at the end of her rope, her alcoholic husband and their two children, both at turning points in their lives. Over the course of the play characters debate on the merits of selling their house, and the promise of starting life anew.
This performance took full advantage of the black box theatre and positioned the audience surrounding the stage as if they built the up the walls of the house. This voyeuristic look into the troubled life of a poverty-stricken family provides over two hours of masterful dialogue and some truly memorable monologues. Blocked to take full advantage of the points of view of the audience, very rarely would there be moments onstage where one side of the audience is given nothing to look at. Tremendous use of the space really turns the set into a truly dynamic aspect of the piece.
Look for standout performances by Julia Schultz and Robbie Dryer as the mother and father. The entire cast was able to deliver Sheppard’s anecdotal monologues with ease, while Schultz and Dryer gave the words a gravity and authenticity that the play could only have used more of. The props and costumes were excellently put together, which was sadly only accented when an anachronistic costume piece would show up. The makeup throughout is notably well done, and while I won’t ruin anything, genuinely gut wrenching at points. Be prepared for the pacing to change dramatically upon re-entrance from the intermission, as the first half of the play runs much longer than the second, even by theatre standards. Tying the acts together are musical interludes by a bluesy two-piece who could have been utilized more, but reinforced the southern flavour of the show.
Overall, this is a show that is lovingly put together by a cast that is obviously invested in the material. It will run until Saturday Nov. 5 and starts at 8:00pm with doors at 7:45pm in the Pit. If you can’t make this one, the next piece the KTS will be premiering is “Closer” on Nov. 16.