On September 16, 2016, the theatre community lost one of the great American playwrights, Edward Albee. He made his Broadway debut with “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, ” earning a Tony Award in 1963 for best play and ran for more than a year and half. In 1966, a film adaptation was produced, starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
…a rewarding experience…
With Albee’s recent passing, how fitting it is for the Colonial Players of Annapolis to produce “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” playing now through November 12, 2016.
The play follows George (in an outstanding, mind-blowing performance by Joseph Mariano), a forty-six-year-old professor of history in a small New England college and his older wife (fifty-two) Martha (an appropriately wicked and manipulative Debbie Barber-Eaton), a domineering, discontented woman who loves and hates her husband George because he “can keep learning the games we play as quickly as I can change them. Who can make me happy and I do not wish to be happy. Yes, I do wish to be happy. George and Martha: sad, sad, sad…”
If George represents the past as the history professor, then Nick (a richly engaging Ron Giddings), a young, handsome, and new arrival on the faculty, represents the future as a biology teacher at the same college. Nick’s wife, Honey (an endearing and lovely Sarah Wade) is unfailingly polite and naive; a result of her upbringing by her preacher father.
All of the action takes place in the living room of George and Martha who have invited Nick and Honey over as guests after a university faculty party. After everyone has a few drinks, inhibitions melt, and the cruel mind games given by the hosts, begin to prey upon their victims, Nick and Honey. This emotionally exhausting evening ends with secrets being revealed; painful enough to make the hangovers hardly noticeable.
Director Craig Allen Mummey has done a beautiful job at staging Albee’s masterpiece. Every corner of the living room, designed by Barbara Colburn, is utilized by the performers in such a way that it helps to tell the story in an interesting manner; not an easy feat considering the play is over 3 hours long. The simplicity of the lighting design by Alex Brady included subtle changes to the colors and light levels. Details such as the sound of of crickets when opening the door were also noticed, thanks to sound designer Ben Cornwell.
Perhaps Albee wanted the audience to be emotionally exhausted by the end of his play, enabling them to feel what the characters were feeling. For me, I found the play to be a rewarding experience and well-worth a visit to George and Martha’s home. “George and Martha: sad, sad, sad…”
Running Time: Approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes with two intermissions.
Advisory: Profanity and adult themes.
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” plays through November 12, 2016 at The Colonial Players of Annapolis in historic Annapolis, MD. For tickets and more information, visit online.