REVIEW OF WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
By Edward Albee, Edited by Ernest Lehman
Directed by Terry McGovern
Ken Bacon Productions and Marin Actors’ Workshop
For tickets / schedule :
Belrose Theatre, San Rafael
RUN: October 2 – 24, 2015
RATING: 4 of 5 stars
(October 2, 2015)
Edward Albee’s award-winning play of 1962 premiered at the Billy Rose Theatre on Broadway and is often known for the cinematic adaptation in 1966 with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Facing controversial themes head-on, the play examines pitfalls of marriage and relationships going sour in a post-war era when families were expected to be perfect. Interwoven is the cutthroat world of academic politics, where good people are ignored for favorites, or those seen to have “the stuff” by those in power. Terry McGovern navigates a nimble balance of humor and authentic scrutiny of dark subject matter.
Society is driven by an ever-present influence that changes throughout history. Today it is the smartphone, in the 1970s narcotics were prevalent, and in the early 1960s when this play is set, alcohol controlled social interactions. The director calls it the fifth character in the play; it causes violent mood swings in the characters and a disturbing bluntness to their conversations, striping away the outer mask so many of us wear. There is a sense of masculine entitlement to the play, reflecting its setting; there is no on stage interaction between the women, only mixed or men conversing with each other, which was common in the 1960s. George and Nick comment that they wonder what women talk about when they are alone.
Martha (Molly McCarthy) stumbles and blusters through an alcohol soaked evening with seeming little thought to others, until her inner insecurities are revealed. McCarthy gives a solid performance, perhaps slightly melodramatic, but in the context of the play it works well. Richard Kerrigan (George) portrays the put-upon husband, bitter and passive aggressive in his career disappointments. His mannerisms and physical performance were excellent, although he stumbled on the lines in a manner not entirely in keeping with the intoxication of his character. Georgia Thunes (Honey) gave a flawless impression of the flighty drunk, swinging from silly to morose in between being sick in the powder room. Tulley Rafferty (Nick) was almost frightening, bringing to life a character you love to hate. Eugene DeChristopher’s set design integrated with the eccentric yet cozy Belrose Theatre interior, giving the impression of a well-worn history professor’s home.
Due to the use of language and mature subject matter, this play is not for young people or family attendance.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? examines the challenges of knowing someone too well for too long, slipping into a rut of insults and animosity, and how easy it is to hate others when the reality is that you despise yourself. It is a modern love story, showing what happens after the Ever After. This production is compelling and heartfelt, well worth a trip to San Rafael.