Theater review

Albee’s tragic-comic allegory at 2nd Story


Director Mark Peckham tells me that during a preview performance of Edward Albee’s tragic-comic allegory, “The Goat or Who is Sylvia?”, a woman in the audience stood up during a critical scene, raised her arms and shouted, “Yeah!”

Albee’s shocking, controversial play has that kind of effect on the audience, hitting on their emotions, their prejudices, their fears, and at times, their funny bones.

The play is only an hour and 15 minutes long without intermission. But in that brief time, so much is covered and uncovered. The language is superb. The comic and tragic timing, guided by director Peckham, is honed to perfection.

Artistic Director Ed Shea plays Martin, the successful architect, recognized by his peers who have honored him with a prestigious award, and loved by his wife, Stevie (Sharon Carpentier).

Their marriage seems to be a perfect one, as they complement each other. Although there is friction with their gay son, Billy (Ben Church), there are signs of love and acceptance.

If ever there was a mid-life crisis, Martin was having a doozy.

The brilliant man is starting to suffer from short-term memory loss. He can’t find the proper words to express himself.

And he is living with a secret that is haunting him. He shares that dark secret with his best friend (Mike Zola), who is totally repulsed and shares it with Martin’s wife, who confronts Martin in one dramatic, volatile scene that had the press night crowd gasping.

Martin, you see, has had an epiphany. And it involves a goat.

That’s about all I want to tell you without spoiling the spontaneity of this hard-hitting, provocative play, which by the way, earned Albee a 2002 Tony and Drama Desk award.

Shea tells us that “The Goat or Who is Sylvia?” will make the audience “question their moral attitudes and limits of tolerance.”

That is for sure.

And if you think the play is shocking, wait until you experience the ending!

I loved this play. I loved it because of the crisp writing, the impeccable acting, the challenges the author throws at the audience, and the emotions it stirs up and delivers.

The cast of four are in total sync, with Shea and Carpentier playing off each other like the two pros they are.

But I must warn you, the subject matter is not only provocative, it may also be offensive to some. Most will be able to see beyond Martin’s obsession, accept the author’s challenges and ponder the allegory he presents.

I must say a few words about the talents of set designer Trevor Elliott, whose last patio set for “Sabrina,” blew me away. This time he has created a living room that, like the patio, I would love to have in my house.

The only problem is that every night Martin’s wife nearly destroys it, and the stage crew have to pick up the pieces.

If you want to see a play that is even more intense than Albee’s classic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, I strongly recommend getting to 2nd Story Theatre before it closes on Oct. 21.

Tickets are $25. Call 247-4200 for reservations.


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