Many directors and designers have chosen to tear apart a stage set as a physical mirror of the disintegration happening to characters on stage. This can happen as a steady erosion or a grand explosion. This production switches that up with the walls and shelves of the Tate family kitchen being rendered in one grand demolition before the play ever starts. They remain in suspension through the performance as prelude and reminder of the dysfunction that rolls through the script. Interesting choice and certainly strong symbolically.
Of course, the late Sam Shepard was a master designer of dysfunctional families and “Curse of the Starving Class” at the Signature Theatre through June 2 is one of several masterpieces he created. The tortured self reflection and battling family members are operatic in scale and grounded in the impossible circumstances of deeply scarred individuals.
This production is a master class on depicting Mr. Shepard’s denizens of self destruction. David Warshofsky deserves a special call out as an exceptional Weston but the entire cast is exceptional. If you are a fan of Sam Shepard’s work you should be pleased with this version. If you have never seen a play by Sam Shepard this is a good place to start.