New theater ensemble presents ‘Delicate’ reading

Ken Grantham

Ken Grantham

PORT TOWNSEND — A pair of Port Townsend-based actors — veterans of productions across the United States — are inviting theater lovers to their free inaugural presentation this Sunday at the Quimper Grange Hall.

Kimberly King and her husband Ken Grantham, along with their actor friends Suzy Hunt, Brian Thompson and Helen Heaslip and Port Townsend performer Michelle Hensel, will give a reading of Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance” at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the hall, 1219 Corona St.

The offering introduces King and Grantham’s Event Horizon Theatre Group, which they call an informal gathering of colleagues, friends — and actors they have yet to meet.

When Grantham and King portrayed Tobias and Agnes, the two lead roles, at Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre in 2011, critic Clinton Stark called it “a ridiculously good time.” The play, he wrote on his “Stark Insider” blog, “burns slowly, throws in a head fake or two, then oozes into a mesmerizing, intellectual stew.”

King and Grantham moved to Port Townsend in summer 2018; King calls this “an artists’ mecca,” a place where people are open to new offerings.

“We are just putting our toe, as it were, in to the vibrant and diverse cultural scene here,” she said.

“A Delicate Balance,” which won Albee the Pulitzer Prize in 1967, is set in a suburban household where Agnes has made herself the keeper of order. She has to maintain control to stop her combustible family from bursting into flames, as Variety magazine’s Marilyn Stasio wrote when the drama played on Broadway in 2014.

Kimberly King

Kimberly King

King, for her part, calls the story “a fascinating look at people when you peel the layers back.” The audience goes on a mind trip with the actors, and “what you think of the characters at the beginning,” she said, “is not what you think at the end.” The reading runs about two hours, 15 minutes — a three-act play. But don’t worry, King said, because the third act is more of a short coda.

The Quimper Grange has 40 chairs for the audience.

“If we get 40 people, I will be in seventh heaven,” she added.

Sunday’s reading will, King hopes, be the start of many Event Horizon Theatre Group productions. She invited theater artists to contact her via www.EventHorizonTheatre.org.

King then saluted Port Townsend’s 62-year-old Key City Public Theatre, adding that she plans to attend its 24th annual PlayFest, the March 6-15 festival of new works at the Key City Playhouse.

She also said she looks forward to seeing Hensel, who plays Edna in “A Delicate Balance,” appear in Key City’s production of “Always, Patsy Cline,” opening in April.

“Hooray for live theater,” King quipped, noting she and Grantham have spent decades in it.

In Seattle, King originated the title role in “Becky’s New Car” at the ACT Theater and portrayed Dolores in “Prayer for My Enemy” at the Intiman, among other roles.

Grantham is a founding member of Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre and has appeared in Shakespeare festivals in Colorado, California and Connecticut, in Seattle theater productions and in movies including 1986’s “Peggy Sue Got Married.”

The couple named their new group after the event horizon moment, King said, that happens just before the actor makes an entrance onto the stage.

At that point, “time stops, for the audience and for the players. The outside world goes away.”

________

Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.

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