Review: Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

Sara Stewart in Who's Afraid Of Virgina Woolf? (Pic:  Richard Campbell)
Sara Stewart in Who's Afraid Of Virgina Woolf? (Pic: Richard Campbell)

A long dark journey into a night of despair, destruction, and mutual dependency ...

Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?: Adam Smith Theatre (and touring)

Three and a half hours spread over three acts, and each one wrings every ounce of drama out of its four characters.

Edward Albee’s classic play, made famous by the Burton-Taylor movie of 1966, remains timeless.
All four actors contribute hugely to this absorbing play which peels away the respectability of a marriage to expose the damage done by two deeply unhappy people, both soaked in alcohol.

Set on a campus in New England, Martha is the principal’s daughter who marries George, superbly played by Robin Kingsland, the history professor who never quite lived up to her ambitions.

After a faculty party, they arrive home and await their guests, Nick, a new biology teacher (Paul Albertson) and his wife Honey (Rose Reynolds).

That late drink turns into a long dark night as they are drawn into, and even trapped by, Martha and George’s verbal assaults which are wicked, cruel, sharp and meant to wound.

Slowly, they also start to expose their guest’s own frailties, making for some powerful scenes with all four actors coming to the fore.

Ultimately they’re all damaged people, with flaws exacerbated by the industrial strength consumption of booze – it’s only when Martha reaches for a bottle under her chair you suddenly start to notice the others stacked around the set.

The second scene features an extended dialogue between the two men who draws you in and, just when you think they too have reached rock bottom, Martha reveals her husband’s great failure, while he, in turn, launches a nasty game to taunt his guests.

And so it goes on ... each layer exposed by wounding words and the games people play

It’s compelling and powerful.

>> Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? is touring: May 10-11. Byre Theatre, St Andrews; May 13. Eastgate Theatre, Peebles; May 15. Motherwell Concert Hall; May 17. Theatre Royal, Dumfries; May 19. Gaiety, Ayr; May 21. Village Theatre, East Kilbride; May 23-27. Kings Theatre, Edinburgh; May 30-June 3. Theatre Royal, Glasgow.