Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, written by Edward Albee, premiered on Broadway in 1962. John Mason Brown, one of the members of the Pulitzer Advisory Committee, which rejected the play for a Pulitzer Prize said, “Although I can’t pretend that Who’s Afraid makes for a pleasant evening at the theatre, I do know that it presents an unforgettable one.” *
All the action takes place at the home of George (Andrew Garman) and Martha (Kathleen McElfresh). George is in his mid-40’s and an associate history professor at a small New England college. Martha, his wife, is 6 years older, and the daughter of the president of the college. The stage is minimally set, with leather sofa and chairs, a bar, and a coffee table which rapidly fills with emptied drink glasses. The time is 2am, AFTER a faculty mixer welcoming newcomers, and Martha has invited one of the young new professors, Nick, (Jeffrey Omura ) and his wife, Honey, (Kristin Villanueva) to their home upon instructions of “Daddy” to help make them feel welcome.
What happens over the next couple of hours is almost a cautionary tale about marriage, and the pain that can come with it, AND how alcohol can destroy all inhibitions of what we say about and to each other in front of others. Martha wastes no time in letting the new couple know how great her father is and what a loser her husband is. Their animosity towards each other goes beyond late night bickering. Nick is initially “offended” that they would put on such a display in front of him and his wife, and yet, he does not leave. Thru the course of the evening, we hear different versions of George and Martha’s marriage and lives, without knowing what, if anything, they say, is actually true. Did they have a child? What color were his eyes? Was the boy who “accidentally” killed his mother, and then later his father, only a character in George’s novel, which “Daddy” would never allow him to get published, or was it actually George himself? And, then there’s the young, handsome, athletic, and academically gifted, Nick, who, at only 28 years old, is a rising star. Why did he marry the rather dim-witted and delicate Honey? And probably more importantly, why does he not just walk away from the vicious, drunken spectacle displayed by George and Martha?
It’s a thought provoking play. The couple we went with called two times the next morning to tell me their thoughts about the play after talking it over with another couple. My husband and I have been “arguing” for days, about whether or not the story would work in modern times. Hopefully, in 2019, a woman wouldn’t feel compelled to either marry “Daddy’s” successor or give birth to him, but could fill that role herself. As for Nick and Honey, a home pregnancy test (two in fact) can be obtained at just about any pharmacy for $20 and provide accurate results in less than 10 minutes. Unless, the fact that Honey had a wealthy father plays a larger role in the marriage than the false pregnancy. Of course, though it is hard to determine fact from fiction in the play, even in 2019, poor or absent parenting can leave a scar, as can failure to produce – whether you are trying to produce a novel or a child. Trauma that is not healed thru honest evaluation, but numbed by too much alcohol, does not heal. That is just as true in 2019, as it was in 1962.
There’s no bones about it, it’s a tough play. If you want an evening of light-hearted entertainment where you walk away humming memorable tunes, this is not it. You would have loved Oklahoma! However, if you are looking for a character driven, thought provoking drama, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is for you.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
playing at Weston Playhouse thru August 31st,
is directed by Mike Donahue.
Tuesday – Saturday Evenings at 7:30 pm
Wednesday & Saturday Matinees at 2:00 pm
Sunday Matinees at 3:00 pm
$45 – $69 (Plus sales sales tax and fees.)
Tickets are available by
calling the Box Office at 802-824-5288
or you can purchase tickets online.
12 Park Street
Weston, VT 05161