Salt Lake Community College is currently presenting “The Curious Savage” in the Black Box Theatre at South City Campus. Written in 1950 by John Patrick, the play has been updated by Julie Heaton, theater program director for SLCC and is a delight to watch. The Black Box is an intimate experience, the perfect setting for the play.
The entire play takes place in the living room of the Cloister’s Sanatorium, as the stepchildren of Mrs. Ethel Savage, played by Keri J. Gukeisen, have her committed under the pretense of mental illness for being disagreeable about the handling of their late father’s estate.
Cast members deserve applause for their hard work and the slick way in which they play each character as if they’ve known each other for a long time.
Particularly entertaining was the comedic interplay between Jonny Byrne (Paddy) and Greg Carver (Willie). Byrne, who only has a few lines in the entire play, uses his physical presence and facial expressions to communicate every angry thought to the audience. Early in the play, Byrne’s character refuses to leave as the doctor has instructed. Carver quite easily picks Byrne up and carries him out, which becomes a running joke.
Conor Thompson and Darby Mest steal the show from the sidelines. Thompson, who plays sanatorium resident Hannibal, takes a no-holds-barred approach to his character. Hannibal is a serious number-cruncher, but Thompson infuses this with brilliant physical action.
Mest, whose character is sanatorium resident Fairy May, never stops with her exuberance.
From the moment she talks about the mating habits of fireflies to the end, Mest is one who will be remembered.
The set and costume teams do a great job of attending to each and every detail. Mrs. Savage’s bear, her hat and the different outfits all fit her character, as do the costumes of each cast member.
Of note are the costume changes of Meredith Jeffrey, played by Annie Smith.
Smith’s character is a resident who was shot down in combat during the war and now suffers from PTSD. In the beginning, Smith’s character is closed and shy. As the show progresses, healing takes place, and this is marked by the gradual costume and attitude changes of Smith’s character.
The cast will perform “The Curious Savage” on the following dates: Oct. 30-31, Nov. 1-2 and Nov. 6-9 in the Black Box Theatre at South City Campus. Performances begin promptly at 7:30 p.m. Student tickets are just $5; general admission is $10. For tickets and more information, contact The Grand Theatre Box Office at (801) 957-3322.