The marriage in the late Edward Albee’s vitriolic 1962 drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (currently playing in a knockout production just around the corner) has been on the rocks for a very long time, but the couple in his black comedy-cum-tragedy (which premiered almost four decades later) initially seems blissfully happy.
Martin is a hugely successful, prize-winning architect, who, at 50 is worrying about starting to lose his memory. But there’s a deeper reason for his distracted behaviour. For months, he has (as he confesses to his oldest friend Ross who comes to interview him) secretly fallen for – and been getting his end away with – a goat! Not only that, but he believes that the hairy ungulate is equally in love with him.
There’s a deep truth in the hurt of Sophie Okonedo’s betrayed Stevie whose affectionate, grammatically correct banter gives way to disbelief, disgust and a furious smashing of ornaments. Damian Lewis’s amusingly baffled Martin is intensely defensive of the form his midlife crisis has taken, yet isn’t completely at ease with their teenage son Billy’s homosexuality.
The play itself (which later makes forays into even more questionable sexual territory) isn’t on a par with Albee’s earlier masterpiece, but Ian Rickson’s production (with strong support form Jason Hughes as Ross and newcomer Archie Madekwe as a fiercely protective Billy) is well worth catching – for the high calibre performances, for some killer one-liners and for a very unusual premise.
Theatre Royal Haymarket
Haymarket, SW1Y 4HT
Until 24th June 2017
£15.00 -£65.00 + premium seats