Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

Tonight, Gretchen, Judy and I saw Edward Albee's "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?: (Notes on a Definition of Tragedy)" - it's full title - at A.C.T. The production starred Don McManus and Pamela Reed (with Joseph Parks and Charles Shaw Robinson), and was directed by Richard T.E. White. (Gretchen scored outrageous 2nd row seats!!!)

I. Loved. This. Play.

I can understand that some people might feel that Albee goes to an absurd and cruel extreme in order to RIP the family apart. However, there is wit and anger and love and the emotions are all real. In what seems like a post-modern, absurdist complication (and, even though it is revealed within the first few moments of the play, I'll not mention it here, as I have been accused of giving away spoilers), the full title (Notes on a Definition of Tragedy), as well as the design of the set, elude to Greek tragedy, when inhuman entities entered the lives of mortals and led them to their fall. On one hand, it's as if Albee has taken an early Greek myth and placed it in a 21st Century family to deal with. On the other, he uses perhaps the last taboo to challenge the concept of fidelity and family. He has created a situation that can not be simply, much less peacefully, resolved. He structured it wonderfully in three parts: easing the audience into a comedy, then thrilling us with some HIGH drama (Man! Those Monologues!) and then finally shocking us with the tragedy.

Pamela Reed plays the wife with nearly Medea-like fury! I loved her! (She did seem just the SLIGHTEST BIT HESITANT during some of the 'set destruction' moments, but this was the Final Preview and she might not be trusting that pieces were not going to hit the first couple of rows in the audience.) Don McManus did a wonderful job as the confused and doomed tragic (anti)hero. The other two roles (the Son, played by Joseph Parks and the Best Friend, Ross, played by Charles Shaw Robinson) felt a bit contrived, for my taste. Including the son does help separate the play from being another "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", and his occasional entrances do give the pair a break between rounds. Though I'm not sure quite what his 'role' was about in the third part of the play, except that it did fill 'time' for some nasty off-stage business. The Best Friend is simply the messenger, for both the audience and the wife, though he does play it well.

The only minor flaw that bugged me was the costuming. It simply paled in comparison to the set and the level of sophistication and status of the characters, particularly Reed's dress in the first scene. It was just so PLAIN and highly unflattering. The lighting design was fabulous, as the entire day seamlessly passes as the two intermissionless hours play on.

It Opens on Tuesday and runs for a month or so. GO SEE IT!

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