As the name suggests, “Curse of the Starving Class” is a reflection on class status. The Catastrophic Theatre is performing this uniquely thought-provoking and surprisingly deep play to Houston audiences through Oct. 21.
This show confronts the very idea of the American dream with the Greek tragedy notion that curses are passed through the bloodline and cause repeated misery. It left me questioning the character’s fate was a product of their actions, or of powers above their ability to control.
Playwright Sam Shepard is known for shining the stage lights on the darker side of American families. In his plays, he often features self-destructive families. Shepard passed away last year. Although the play was first performed in 1978, rural Americans still struggle today with being left behind by forces beyond their control.
The production is full of incredible acting. This is not an easy play to perform. The attention to detail in each character’s acting is remarkable. The small and intimate performance space at the MATCH Theater in Midtown allows you to see all of their facial expressions, no matter where you sit.
Luis Galindo plays a very convincing drunk as Weston. The show forces you to watch him in his wobbly drunken stupor as his children, Wesley (Jayden Key) and Emma (Sarah Kimberly Becker), stare at him in silent dismay. Galindo’s acting makes Weston’s 180-degree turn around in behavior just as convincing his complete intoxication.
Emma (Becker) is the most relatable character for me as a student. In multiple scenes, she desperately tries to simply focus on her homework, but the starving state of her family and the turmoil of the household prevent her from completing homework. Despite her hard work and intelligence, her success and dreams remain out of reach. It takes a lot of energy and stamina for any actor to perform the scenes when Emma is screaming or in a state of shock.
Key’s performance as Wesley, the son and brother of the family, is the most impressive. The role clearly takes a lot of physical and mental energy and Key’s stellar performance is a testament to his acting abilities.
Catastrophic Theatre is performing “Curse of the Starving Class” through Oct. 21 at the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH). All performances are pay-what-you-can. You can reserve a ticket online for as low as $5. Fair warning, this performance contains nudity.