Julia's Reviews > Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
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Aug 19, 11

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bookshelves: classics, drama
Read from August 18 to 19, 2011

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a play about the marriage of George, a man in the History Department at a New England university, and Martha, the daughter of the university president. The play comes in a variety of layers from the start's polite pretenses until the ultimately stripped down truth in the final act. Act One: Fun and Games opens with George and Martha bickering, displaying a clear caring for each other but revealing cracks that have formed in their relationship. When Nick and his wife, Honey, arrive, George and Martha turn to a game of embarrassing each other and ruining their self respect while using their guests as pawns in the humiliations. Act Two: Walpurgisnacht is when the insults and the bickering become nasty and secrets start to flow as Nick and Honey are dragged deeper and deeper into George and Martha's marital affairs until, finally, in Act Three: the Exorcism, everyone's secrets are exposed and the truth of both sides are revealed.
As the text plays out, layers are shed and the truth of both marriages' pasts are brought out in attempts at embarrassment stemming from deep-set hatred. The text explores the dynamics of relationships with the hurt, hate, history and humiliation of two people caught in a struggle with each other and themselves. There's a ferocity in the dialogue and a shameless passion in the characters that left me intrigued and empathetic to the pain and the frustration of the text. It's not a read to lift your spirits but it's a stark portrayal of a realistic relationship that has turned a marriage into a never ending battle and two people into bottles of suppressed emotion and abjured understanding.
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