Written by Edward Albee
Directed by Cate
ACT HUB Theatre to 17
Edward Albee’s famous play from 1962, ‘Who’s Afraid of
Virginia Woolf?’, may be celebrating its 60th anniversary this year,
but in its new production by Free-Rain Theatre company, it still packs a heavy
A young biology teacher and his wife, newly arrived at an East Coast college, are invited to late night drinks at the home of the daughter of the president of the college and her history teaching husband. What follows is a furious assault of words and actions where the line between truth and illusion is constantly blurred.
The play still works because, despite some dated references, the underlying truths about people and the fantasies they create to deal with unhappiness still apply. In Albee’s play we are drawn into a domestic battle that is nightmarish but uncomfortably recognisable from our own life experiences and observations.
|From left: Michael Sparks (George), Joshua Wiseman (Nick), Karina Hudson (Honey) and Andrea Close (Martha)
Played in the round at the ACT HUB theatre, the set design by the director, Cate Clelland, simply but clearly evokes the early 1960s living room of an ageing academic couple. In this arena-like setting, we are intensely drawn into the play as if we are silent but unwilling guests of that couple as well. Our closeness to the continual verbal and physical assaults that take place makes it an increasingly uncomfortable, but ultimately rewarding, experience.
|Andrea Close and Michael Sparks
In spite of the one room setting, the director keeps her cast on the move continuously like prowling animals ready to attack. Body language and use of props as well as dialogue delivery has clearly been worked on with great care and insight, resulting in a highly believable and in-depth interaction between these four people.
The four performers, Andrea Close as Martha, the college president’s daughter, Michael Sparks as her fading husband, George, Joshua Wiseman as Nick, the smug young biology teacher and Karina Hudson as Honey, his nervous, secretive wife, all give extraordinary and memorable performances.
This iconic play has lost none of its power. It’s shocking, insightful and disturbing but also surprisingly very funny. An opportunity to see this classic, especially in such a good production as this, is not to be missed.
Len Power's reviews
are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’
programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.