The annual King’s Infringement Festival’s Best of Fest night was my introduction to both the King’s Theatrical Society (KTS) and the glorious simplicity of The Pit. As this was my first King’s theatre experience I had no real expectations going in. I was thoroughly impressed with everything I saw.
As the first of the four performances began, the hum of conversation and excited shuffling died down. White Collar Workers, directed by Andrew Wiley, told of terrible sins and unholy teachings. Starring Dylan Jackson as a troubled priest questioning their place in the church, and Katie Lawrence as a terribly honest confessing sinner, the play was an exercise in weaponizing dialogue. The scenes painted in the mind by the confessor were vivid and gut-wrenching, prompting many gasps from the crowd. To my surprise, despite the intensity of the subject matter, the script was darkly comedic and prompted an equal number of nervous chuckles.
The second play of the evening was I Never Needed You. It excellently portrays a long-distance friendship breaking down due to abuse. The play was directed by Cassidy Nesbit and starred Olivier Blais and Maria Denison as the two friends. The vast majority of the play took the form of text conversations between the two. A lamp was placed on either side of the stage as a mechanism to display either character checking their phone. The sombre tone of the play loomed large over the audience. The room was absolutely silent until the lights cut. Denison gave a particularly potent performance. Her trembling, tear-soaked breakdown drew me in with such force that I forgot I was watching a play. She received a well-deserved standing ovation.
Following a brief intermission, the evening resumed with I Hope you had a Good Nite, directed by Natalie Forth. The show tells the story of a complex love triangle through the lens of late-night drinking fallout, and starred Maddy Kendall as Alice, a caring but flawed partner and friend. Chloe Kaulbach and Cassidy Nesbit played supporting roles, both in literal and theatrical terms. Helping their friend through difficult chaos, while Kagan Macivor and Wesley Griffen gave their sides of the beer-stained story as boyfriend and as best friend respectively. Much like “White Collar Workers”, the play dealt with troubling real-world themes. It offset the discomfort through plenty of physical comedy.
The final act was a much-needed pick-me-up in the form of The Drag Artist’s Storytelling Hour. Instantly engaging and utterly captivating, the four-act performance was directed and fronted by Kardia Diamanti. Kardia performed Jack Stauber’s “Buttercup” with vigour and sass. As the audience roared with applause, any semblance of fatigue fell away. Jase Miawei gave a dramatic tour de force with “Into the Unknown” by Panic! at the Disco, while Aurora Borealess made the room shake with their mashup of various gender-bending pop songs. Finally, Matricide took to the stage bringing emotion and elements of breaking to their dance routine. The crowd chair-danced and lip-synced along to the musical performers, large grins on all faces. It was an uplifting and satisfying finale to an emotional night.