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

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
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Nov 11, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: 1960s, fiction, theatre
Read from March 24 to 25, 2012

I had planned to read this play for quite a long time, intrigued by the title and it's reputation. I moved it on up the to-read list as I had a telephone call from my brother in Leeds excited to tell me that he has just landed the part of 'Nick' in this play when it is performed at the Carriageworks Theatre in May. That's a pretty impressive role to land!

It is a fascinating and dark, twisted play. I am looking forward to seeing how it will be handled on the stage. There are many layers to it and it descends in a sharp spiral of spiteful revelations and little pieces of petty revenge between the four characters. The whole play is set in one room, over the space of about two hours. It begins at 2 o'clock in the morning, after a party, when on arriving home George finds that his wife, Martha has invited a couple over for after-party drinks. All the characters are associated with the university that Martha's father is responsible for, George is a reluctant History professor and Nick is a new Biology professor, Honey his mousey wife.

The relationship between George and Martha is set before Nick and Honey arrive, as bitter and frustrated but still with affection. As the play sees the characters get more and more drunk, they use each other as a means of bringing down their partners, revealing secrets and using bitter digs, flirting with each other and eventually breaking down every last barrier.

There are some hilarious remarks in this play. "Angel tits" and "monkey nipples" to name a couple. George really is a bit of a card and in his spite he instigates many laughs. His humour, however does highlight how pitiful he really is, showing up all the areas he has given up on due to a growing jaded view of life.

It is a very interesting look at the dark resentments people can harbour against each other following a lifetime together. How the little private tragedies of everyday life build up until they reach boiling point. Edward Albee plays the characters off against each other, winding each individual up until just before they crack and then moving the focus onto the next character until everyone has reached a point where they are equally on edge and ready to blow. George, who seems to have been the conductor of the evening, who instigates the most winding up, uses his final twist to force them all the face what they are really afraid of... the truth.
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