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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
a Drama
by Edward Albee

COMPANY : Live Arts Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Belfry Playhouse (inside Norcross Presbyterian Church) [WEBSITE]
ID# 5170

SHOWING : October 27, 2017 - November 04, 2017



George, a professor at a small college, and his wife, Martha, have just returned home, drunk from a Saturday night party. Martha announces, amidst general profanity, that she has invited a young couple — an opportunistic new professor at the college and his shatteringly naïve new bride — to stop by for a nightcap. When they arrive the charade begins. The drinks flow and suddenly inhibitions melt. It becomes clear that Martha is determined to seduce the young professor, and George couldn’t care less. But underneath the edgy banter, which is cross-fired between both couples, lurks an undercurrent of tragedy and despair. George and Martha’s inhuman bitterness toward one another is provoked by the enormous personal sadness that they have pledged to keep to themselves: a secret that has seemingly been the foundation for their relationship. In the end, the mystery in which the distressed George and Martha have taken refuge is exposed, once and for all revealing the degrading mess they have made of their lives.

Recommended for Audiences ages 16+ for severe, infrequent adult language, adult situations and mild violence.

George Edwin Ashurst
Nick Josh Howe
Honey Jamie Link
Martha Angela Van Tassel
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Straight Up, Undiluted
by playgoer
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Edward Albee’s "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" has entered the pantheon of great American plays. Live Arts’ production shows why. Fine performances and fluid movement let the play’s emotional resonance reverberate in the small playing space.

Becca Parker has designed a set that dresses up the space beautifully. The oft-used bar is stage right, near the front door and hall tree. A record player is up center with an abstract painting above it, and downstage of it are a sofa and coffee table and chair. Up left is a bookcase, in front of an arched exit to the rest of the house. Down left, on an angle mimicking that of the sofa, and also sitting on an oriental rug, are a desk and chair. The pale walls and the eclectic vintage furnishings give the space a charming look.

Ms. Parker has also provided the fight choreography, and that too is first-rate. Technical elements work well, with door chimes the primary sound effect, but beautifully associated with movement at the physical door bell chimes we see on the wall next to the front door. Lighting is basic general illumination and is blessedly free of unnecessary adjustments to heighten mood.

Technical elements, of course, do not make a show. Acting can, and in this case does. Jamie Link FitzStephens has the least to do as Honey, but manages to make an impression with her cheery smile transitioning to sleepy half-closed eyes as the play progresses. Joshua Howe has more to do as her husband Nick, but betrays some community theatre lack of nuance in his performance. Nuance, however, is not lacking in the performances of Angela Van Tassel and Edwin Ashurst as the battling Martha and George. Ms. Van Tassel doesn’t have outsized charisma, but plays her role with spiteful venom blended with great heart. Mr. Ashurst is a genuine marvel onstage, distilling all the comedy and passion and ruefulness of George into a 200-proof performance.

The uncredited direction of the show is wonderful, mixing inventive blocking with ever-changing emotional levels. The running time is well over three hours, but the action is riveting throughout. This production brings Albee’s words and characters to life and puts them right in the faces of the two rows of the audience. It’s an unforgettable theatrical experience, sparked by an amazing performance by Edwin Ashurst. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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