A darkly comic exploration of one American family’s psyche is about to unfold at Thompson Rivers University.
Under the direction of Wes Eccelston, The Curse of the Starving Class will explore issues of debt, obsession, and yes, starvation, starting Feb. 28 at the Black Box Theatre.
“It’s really raw and very gritty,” Eccelston said of Sam Shephard’s play. “It’s grotesque realism. It’s almost naturalism.”
The characters have nothing to do and no prospects. They eat continuously despite there being not enough food, he said. Although written in the 1970s, Eccelston believes Shephard tapped into a timely problem given the recession and rampant consumer spending that led to it and continues today.
The Curse of the Starving Class focuses on the dysfunctional Tate clan — the drunken dreamer of a father, burned-out mother, rebellious teenage daughter, and idealistic son — as they struggle for control of the rundown family farm in a futile search for freedom, security, and ultimately meaning in their lives.
Allison Clow plays the daughter, Emma. Clow said Emma is on the verge of womanhood but very much of the childhood belief that everything should work out OK.
“Each family member has a curse in their life,” she said, adding they perceive these curses as holding them back in life.
“She is struggling with the ways of the world and how they should work.”
Weston, played by Michael Hogg, is disappointed life hasn’t gone the way he’d hoped. Although he has no one to blame but himself, he instead holds his family, credit card debt and booze responsible, said Hogg.
“He uses those excuses to avoid the responsibility himself,” he said.
Fellow actors Andrew Cooper, Trevor Huszti and Matt Hardy built the set — a shabby, dirty farmhouse kitchen — during the course of three weekends.
The trio plays a lawyer, prospective buyer for the Tate homestead and mobster respectively. Hustzi said the play has been a lot of fun to work on.
At one point a live lamb becomes a part of the proceedings, said Eccelston. But if audiences want to see how they need to attend The Curse of the Starving Class when the play runs Feb. 28 to March 2 and March 7 until March 9.
Tickets are available by phoning 250-377-6100.