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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

a Drama
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by Edward Albee

COMPANY : Alliance Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Woodruff Art Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 912

SHOWING : March 17, 2004 - April 18, 2004

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION


CAST & CREW LIST
Fight Choreographer Jason Armit
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REVIEWS

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Amazing
by ScottishLady
Thursday, April 15, 2004
5.0
I absolutely loved this production. This was the first time I've had the opportunity to see this script performed, and it exceeded my expectations.

For me, the best part of the show was the believability of the actors. Each of the four actors seemed so natural that I truly felt they were real people. I was able to be wrapped up in the world of Martha and George, rather than being reminded that I was watching a play. Margot Skinner as Martha was practically perfect; Tracy Letts as George inhabited the character so thoroughly that I lost all sense of Mr. Letts as an actor--a beautiful performance. Courtney Patterson's Honey was both pitiable and unlovable, and a bright foil to the tension of Martha's and George's forcefulness. Joe Knezevich as Nick also turned in quite a strong performance, although it perhaps did not reach quite the same level of seething intensity found in the others' work.

My only quibble with the performance was slight. At one point, George grabs Martha by the hair in order to force her to listen to him. That one moment of stage violence was poorly enough executed to take me out of the reality of the scene. The other bits of violence, however, seemed believable and focused.

The beauty of these actors' work was well matched by the fabulously detailed set design and the terrific lighting. These designers did an excellent job of intensifying focus and heightening the overall feel of the play.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this production. It was painful to watch and mentally exhausting, which is just as it should be. A great job all around. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Let the Games Begin!
by Dedalus
Tuesday, April 6, 2004
5.0
Let me preface this by admitting that Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is one of my all-time favorite plays, and George is one of those roles that’s on my short list of “roles-I’d-kill-to-play.” So, going into any production I’m not part of comes with a lot of sour-grapes baggage.

That being said, I have to reluctantly admit that the production currently at the Alliance hits every moment right (and then some), and is, in fact, the best production I’ve seen there since “Proof.”

The success or failure of any production of “Virginia Woolf” must, by definition, begin and end with the cast. Is this a George and Martha who are believably suited for each other in spite of the on-stage war we witness? Does our sympathy for the guest start strong and erode as we learn more about them? In this case, the answer to both questions is a resounding YES!

Margo Skinner and Tracy Letts start off the production by showing us a couple at ease, actually enjoying each other and their little games. This is an aspect missed by literally every production I’ve seen up to this point (including the Burton/Taylor movie). The popular choice is to start them off at each other’s throats and increase the stakes from there. I’ve always thought this makes the final moments more of a stretch, and Martha’s confession that George is the only one she’d ever loved come from nowhere. By showing them at ease and somewhat affectionate, it makes the stakes higher, and makes the final moments more wrenching. And, in contrast, it makes the younger couple seem even shallower and less likeable.

Speaking of the younger couple, Joe Knezevich and Courtney Patterson perfectly capture the discomfort at being in this “war zone” (or “game zone” would be a more accurate description of the arena). By the end it’s obvious their marriage will never be as deep and satisfying as George and Martha’s, and we feel it’s their loss, their misfortune, their fault. What starts out as pity ends up as sadness for them.

And the final moments, Martha’s howl of grief at George’s final victory, George’s heart-breakingly tender gesture towards her, ripped through me like an emotional stake through the heart. I have never been so moved by this play, and rarely this moved by any play. This moment was why I love theatre, why I have this neurotic need to write about theatre, why I am sometimes too strict with other productions that seem to just “connect the dots.” These were not actors displaying their craft for an adoring fan base – these were giants, real and human, wounded beyond repair, planting their pain in my life, a pain that still makes my fingers shake two days after witnessing it.

The technical support for the show was also top-notch. The set looked like a college professor’s home, lit in a pallette of shadow and light, disappearing into gloom as you look deeper. If I must quibble, it would be with a stray light spilling on the Stage Right Proscenium – was it planned or accidental? It should be noted than in the three-hour time span of the play, I was never distracted by it, noticing it only during the intermissions.

So, if I should ever be lucky enough to play George, if that production hits half the moments as well as this one did, it would still be work to remember with pride.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)
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