Edward Albee’s “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf” depicts the marriage of a middle-aged couple with an appetite for emotionally and verbally attacking one another. Embedded in the academic community, Martha is the daughter of the university’s President and George is a professor in the History department. The play starts with them returning home for a night cap having just come from a faculty party thrown by Martha’s father. They are joined by a young professor and his wife who are new to the community. At first, the couple is taken aback by George and Martha’s antics but as the night advances so does their tolerance. The unassuming couple quickly transforms from spectator to player in a vicious game set forth by their hosts.
…an explosive and biting performance that will have the audience reeling.
Led by director Aaron Posner, the creative team creates an authentic world in which the drama unfolds. The story takes place in George and Martha’s living room. Littered with empty cocktail glasses and books, set designer, Meghan Raham, does an excellent job making the house reflect the personalities of its occupants. Costume designer Kelsey Hunt does so similarly with the ensemble’s wardrobe. Martha’s outfits, accessorized with cherry red nails, drooping diamonds, and a coiffed black bob, were particularly effective in establishing a sense of character.
The show exhibits an extraordinary amount of talent. Gregory Linington and Holly Twyford make remarkable transformations as George and Martha. The vocal prowess of Holly Twyford was especially impressive. Fitting for the character, she crafted a voice identifiable as a person who drinks heavily and enjoys a frequent smoke. Her counterpart, Gregory Linington, is equally impressive in his command of dialogue. Linington masters Albee’s witty reference-packed dialogue with ease. Danny Gavigan and Maggie Wilder hold their own as Nick and Honey, the sweet young couple who as the night progresses start to eerily resemble their own version of George and Martha. Gavigan succeeds at portraying such a dimensional character who is simultaneously confounded and enthralled by the antics of the evening. Wilder was just as successful in her portrayal of Honey. In a play that deals in misery, Wilder was a delightful presence, providing the drama with much needed comedic relief.
The Ford’s theatre production of Albee’s classic is impressive. The trainwreck that is George and Martha’s marriage is engrossing. Their vicious games play on like a war. Armed with wit as a weapon, the pair uses one another as scapegoats in order to avoid dealing with the real issues of their marriage. The result is an explosive and biting performance that will have the audience reeling.
Running Time: Three hours with two intermissions.
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” plays through February 19th at Ford Theatre, 514 10th St. NW., Washington, D.C. 20004. For tickets, call the box office at 888.616.0270, or purchase them here online.