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The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  3,515 ratings  ·  110 reviews
On his 50th birthday, Martin, a world-famous architect prepares for a recorded interview by an old friend in the TV business; but in the course of the conversation a secret emerges that threatens to turn celebration to tragedy. The Goat is hugely enjoyable parable that plumbs the deepest questions of social constraints on the individual expression of love."My plays are an ...more
Paperback, 110 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Overlook TP (first published January 1st 2003)
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Angels in America by Tony KushnerAugust by Tracy LettsArcadia by Tom StoppardThe Pillowman by Martin McDonaghThe History Boys by Alan Bennett
Best Plays Since 1990
6th out of 124 books — 81 voters
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee WilliamsThe Crucible by Arthur MillerDeath of a Salesman by Arthur MillerThe Glass Menagerie by Tennessee WilliamsWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
Best American Plays
46th out of 181 books — 252 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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e. roy lee
Oct 08, 2007 e. roy lee rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: goats
Edward Albee is know for his ability to write plays in which each character's flaws slowly ooze out of them like sweat from a roasting pig, resulting in a combustion of relationships among the characters. in this repulsivly dark comedy about a happily married man who falls in love with a goat, Albee raises questions about the social boundaries of sex and love and what is deemed "moral" to the norm of the society. this is almost a farce to Peter Shaffer's Equus, except that Albee's message is mor ...more
This is not really about a guy who fucks a goat (not that it couldn't be, but that only scratches the surface.) In a deeper sense, the goat is a metaphor for any unutterable desire or act that once revealed is met with repulsion, castigation, condemnation and expulsion. Although Albee is undoubtedly America's most vicious playwright (and the play has a quality of baiting the audience who will come to any play with Albee's name on it, regardless of how offensive it appears to be) his choice of a ...more
Feb 02, 2009 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Amanda by: Jini
This play is about guy who fucks a goat (which is really gross). And even though it's about a guy who fucks a goat, it's VERY GOOD!
The shocked, stunned, horrified, dazed GR reviews,
in praise of this sassafrass, prove that lemmings get
violent indigestion from a helping of pickled herring.
The condiment in question comes with Sylvia, the metaphorical
mammal who represents any "love" that Society might condemn.
I'm mixing my metaphors because what else can you do?
Albee, grunting around a horny barnyard, is not being
literal when his married Dad, in the play, explains that he's acuddle, or what have you, with a goat. The Puritan m
Amy Nicole
I think this one might have been more impacting had I seen it performed. The idea of the play -- a man forms a relationship with a goat, and it tears his family apart -- was really interesting. The wife, Stevie, was probably my favorite character as she slowly went insane from desperation.

Albee said that his intent with the play was to make people "think afresh about whether or not all the values they hold are valid." I'm not sure that it did that for me. I think the point of the play was not t
Mar 25, 2013 Tony rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: drama
THE GOAT or, WHO IS SYLVIA? (2000). Edward Albee. ***.
Stevie and Martin are married and are very much in love. They do have trouble with accepting the fact that their son, Billie, is gay. We enter the play as Martin is talking with his best friend, Ross. Ross is some kind of TV host, and is attempting to film a segment on Martin and his recent success as an architect. When the session falls through, Martin and Ross begin to talk man-to-man, as old friends often will. It then comes out that Mart
Oh my God. I'm still in a state of shock. Oh my God. I read the whole play in approximately an hour sitting on the couch in a trance. While this play was absolutely extraordinary, and a real masterpiece, it was probably one of the most disturbing things I've ever read. Definitely rated NC 17. Highly recommended, because it was insanely well done and the incredibly dark, difficult subject matter was handled with grace, empathy, and sophistication, but it is not light reading. It revolves around a ...more
Barbara Fang
So I'm in this club at the University of Pittsburgh called Pizza and Plays. The premise of the club is to get free pizza and free plays. It's great. Every week, we meet, eat pizza and talk about the play we just read that week. Suffice it to say we read a fair number of plays. Of all the plays we've read so far this year, I think my favorite play must be this one. God, this was a hilarious yet heart-wrenching play. The characters were weaved so intricately and beautifully. They complemented each ...more
Quinn Tule
If you have some sort of categorical imperative concerning the morality of bestiality then just skip this book. This book isn't about just bestiality it's more about the arbitrary delineations of morality and what qualifies as human or subhuman behavior. This play is a sort of short Lolita in the barnyard, I can empathize with most of the characters in the play though Ross is pretty much despicable. The wordplay and offbeat structure of the dialog is something that I haven't found in many plays. ...more
Welcome to the quagmire of human sexuality. "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?" (a 2002 Tony Award winner for Best Play) places the audience in the jury box. The accused are Martin, his wife Stevie and their gay teen-aged son Billy. Albee challenges us to question the nature and meaning of love. Can love and shame coexist? Who defines normal? Who, or what, has been betrayed? Who decides which behaviors are acceptable? After the evidence has been presented and issues debated we realize that this play i ...more
Davin Allan
Review on

Edward Albee’s The Goat; or, Who is Sylvia? has been written with explicit literary and dramatic intention, seen through the published subtitle. The aim of Albee’s play is to define modern tragedy as a contemporary adaptation of the genre from the fifth-century. Albee’s revival of theatric principles from the dramatic theory in Aristotle’s Poetics, as well as the characteristic and plot parallels between The Goat and Sophocles’ Oedipus th
I've read several Albee plays thus far, and I think this one is far and away the best of those plays. Although Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is Albee's most famous play, I prefer this play. What I liked most about this play is the set of absurdist overtones. I mean, the entire premise is a bit absurd--a man and a goat fall in love at first sight--but then there are the issues of incomplete and missed communication, the different levels of ethical discourse, and so on. For instance, Martin spen ...more
Jan 18, 2015 Julia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
last night was the second night that has ended with me drunkenly reading a play given to me by my friend. ANYWAY. due to these circumstances i have far less to say in the realm of thoughtfulness, cogency, etc. (this time around i was drunker & read the whole thing in a state of semi-distraction, i don't know.) it was good, stevie was a great character, Metaphors Are An Amazing Thing, et cetera. cf. this play with the new york magazine article from november "what it's like to date a horse." d ...more

"We're both too bright for most of the shit. We see the deep and awful humour of things go over the heads of most people; we see what's hideously wrong in what most people accept as normal; we have both the joys and the sorrows of all that. We have a straight line through life, right all the way to dying, but that's OK because it's a good line ... so long as we don't screw up."

... "And you've screwed up!" (88)
This was a cool play. I felt a little bit like the unusual sexual components of it were gimmicks. I appreciated its absurdity at first--and tried to look at the piece symbolically maybe in terms of how we as a society view sexual deviance. Or maybe what defines sexual deviance anymore. And why anything should be viewed as being deviant.

However, the message was a little bit muddled. Was this a piece about a broken family? Was it a piece about sexuality? Was it a piece about the two-faced-ness of
Only Albee could pull this off. Shocking and thought provoking, I have some issues with it, but then again, I thought about it for days after reading it and how much modern drama does that now a days?
The play concerns the main character, Martin, a successful architect, fucking a goat. The goat is not only a metaphor of a tragedy, but it also serves as a vehicle for Martin to destroy his marriage to Stevie, his relationship with his gay son, Billy and his best friend, Ross, over an infidelity that defies all conventional beliefs. The play challenges the reader/audience to face their mortality in the face of taboos. Edward Albee magnifies a sexual disgust by creating an unpredictable situation ...more
J.M. Slowik
"Billy: You seem to know a lot about all that.

Martin: (Not defensive) I read."


This manages to be consistently tense, funny and tragic. Some may call it dark and repulsive too but I think it's perfect theatre of the absurd. A successful married man falls in love with a goat. It reads like a joke, and in the play the premise is mined for a lot of outrageous humor, but then it transforms into a mechanism for examining cultural beliefs other uncomfortable territory. This is brave, purposefully u
Aug 01, 2009 Wayne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: a must for everyone
Recommended to Wayne by: a dear friend
When it was revealed to the audience that the object of the main character's affections and cause of his marital infidelity is ...a goat,
there were gales of laughter. Later I wondered how the actor felt for his character when this brutal, smug but readily understandable response was nightly unleashed. I'm sure our wonderful actor William Zappa, saw it as a challenge to have us all weeping by the finale.

This is a brilliant work of art in the form of a play.
To try to teach an audience through a wo
Rui Carlos da Cunha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenny Maloney
Martin is a successful man, with a loving wife and a slightly troubled son. However, during an interview conducted by his best friend, Ross, Martin confesses a secret: He's in love with a goat. And he's also having sex with said goat.

description (And with eyes like that, who can blame him?)

Ross, instead of being the understanding friend Martin understood him to be, goes directly to Stevie -- Martin's wife -- and turns him in. What follows is a passionate debate about love, sex, and what is-and-is-not appr
For some reason (let’s call it 20-something-too-little-sleep-and-too-much-wine, and not what it is, which is my terrible memory) but I didn’t remember Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? was a play, until this weary-reader delighted in finding a slim volume on the self and not another (as was feared) 500 page tome (no doubt each page of the 500 page novels I’ve made my way through have been worth it, but I’m just saying, at this point in 10-10-12 I’m taking my slim volumes where I can get ...more
Kyle York
Edward Albee is a wickedly clever and emotionally wrought writer (no other playwright brings to mind such a strong connection to Nietzsche's conception of the theater as bringing the viewer to the inebriated and dark and raw Dionysian aspect of existence.) But over and above this, he performs one of the most essential tasks of the artist: to legitimately question cultural values. Just as, so I've heard, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf caused such a stir in the sixties, Albee didn't become content ...more
Just finished this play yesterday, and probably need to consider it awhile before coming up with my definitive thoughts. My immediate response is that of deep gratitude to Albee for his compassionate consideration of the erotic magnetisms that can direct our lives so irresistibly, so irrevocably.

It's the story of an architect at the top of his career who deeply loves his wife and his 17-year old gay son, but who has fallen in love with Sylvia--a goat. The situation draws from classical tragedy,
"The Goat" won so many awards: the Tony, New York Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle. Unfortunately, I did not find it to merit all these awards. The back cover claims it to be "a shockingly entertaining parable that plumbs the deepest questions of social constraints on the individual expression of love" but this idea is neither new, nor is it done in an especially notable way. The topic has been covered far better by many other authors.
This is a thinker on so many levels. No answers provided but lot's of questions raised. What is love? Intolerance why and where does it come from. The end surprised me did not see it coming. Will not spoil!

I loved in Wayne's review below, "what we fail to understand we feel compelled to destroy". That is the theme of this play and the overall thinking point. This play will be on my mind for a awhile.
Omg I have a slew of adjectives to describe this play: intense, provocative, wild, audacious, jarring, memorable, & profound among others. I would say that I am at a loss for words, but I really just want someone to read this story so we can maturely discuss the nature of love & the depths of what can be called the soul, at least as it's all framed in the context of this story. I originally found this script through a Facebook recommendation from an old high school thespian cohort, and s ...more
Sarah Barry
LOVE LOVE LOVE this play. It'll make you uncomfortable, as the best art does. Read it and question societal norms. Go!
Dec 02, 2014 Sam rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: q
I really didn't like this play. I couldn't figure out the deeper meaning, and the subject matter was quite disturbing.
"You have brought me down, you goat-fucker; you love of my life! You have brought me down to nothing!"
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Edward Franklin Albee III is an American playwright known for works including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Zoo Story, The Sandbox and The American Dream. His works are considered well-crafted and often unsympathetic examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflect a mastery and Americanization of the Theatre of the Absurd that found its peak in works by European playwrights su ...more
More about Edward Albee...
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The American Dream & The Zoo Story The Zoo Story and Other Plays Three Tall Women A Delicate Balance

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“Stevie: (Not listening) That you can do these two things... and not understand how it... SHATTERS THE GLASS!!?? How it cannot be dealt with-how stop and forgiveness have nothing to do with it? and how I am destroyed? How you are? How I cannot admit it though I know it!? How I cannot deny it because I cannot admit it!? Cannot admit it, because it is outside of denying!?” 0 likes
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