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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  62,356 ratings  ·  1,653 reviews
"Twelve times a week," answered Uta Hagen when asked how often she'd like to play Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In the same way, audiences and critics alike could not get enough of Edward Albee's masterful play. A dark comedy, it portrays husband and wife George and Martha in a searing night of dangerous fun and games. By the evening's end, a stunning, almost u ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by NAL (first published January 1st 1962)
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Robert Muir Snigdha Jayakrishnan is on the right track. In an interview about ten years ago Albe stated that he saw it scrawled on a wall somewhere in downtown Ne…moreSnigdha Jayakrishnan is on the right track. In an interview about ten years ago Albe stated that he saw it scrawled on a wall somewhere in downtown New York and thought it was catchier than the working title he was using.(less)
Terence Everything about this play falls into place once you realize that all four characters are gay men. A reviewer in the New York Times noticed this in th…moreEverything about this play falls into place once you realize that all four characters are gay men. A reviewer in the New York Times noticed this in the mid-1960s, and it proved very helpful to me. Indeed, he went further and noted that other gay playwrights had done the same thing. For example, Blanche DuBois makes more sense once you consider the possibility that she is a gay man in drag.(less)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a play by Edward Albee first staged in 1962. It examines the breakdown of the marriage of a middle-aged couple, Martha and George. Late one evening, after a university faculty party, they receive an unwitting younger couple, Nick and Honey, as guests, and draw them into their bitter and frustrated relationship.

The play is in three acts, normally taking a little less than three hours to perform, with two 10-minute i
Jun 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have to invent a new word after this play: sadvicious. As in, sad and vicious, ineluctably intertwined, till death do them part. There's also the wicked humor of the play, for which I don't have a new word, a heartbreaking hilarity that keeps pace with the emotional maelstrom. This is an absolutely brilliant work. ...more
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, recs
A three-act play about the illusions that sustain two couples, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf follows the aging George and Martha as they entertain and terrorize the recently married Nick and Honey one night after the end of a university faculty party. The evening starts off on an unpleasant note in the former couple's home, and the situation only further deteriorates as the increasingly intoxicated small group stumbles toward dawn. Albee's acerbic wit is at its strongest here, and in contrast t ...more
L A i N E Y ~back in a bit~
“I don’t have a sense of humor. I have a fine sense of the ridiculous but no sense of humor.”

I found this premise blatantly implausible: why would you STAY when the other couple start maliciously attacking each other??? There’s no way that would happen, right? Well, unless, of course, you’re being held hostage... which these two weren’t....

The writing is good though. Sharp and vicious and twisted.
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a great reading experience this classic play is, even on paper: the intensity of the interaction between the four characters just is fabulous. Of course, what is shown to us is not really uplifting: the scorn that goes on and off in the long-married couple, is frightening; and also in the younger couple tensions are running high. The game that is being played by all protagonists not only is painstakingly intense but also very perfidious and brutal. But as it turns out the gap between the el ...more
Tamoghna Biswas
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, classics
**4.5 stars**

“Like the moon shining bright
Up high with all its grace,
I can only show you at night
And hide half of my face.”

― Ana Claudia Antunes, (Pierrot & Columbine)

“Like European Absurdists, Albee has tried to dramatize the reality of man’s condition, but whereas Sartre, Camus, Beckett, Genet, Ionesco, and Pinter present reality in all its logical absurdity, Albee has been preoccupied with illusions that screen man from reality.”

I bought this one at a thrift store back at a time when I hadn
Kat Kennedy
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it
This play is so fucked. I don't know whether it's genius or madness. Probably both. ...more
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“There's no limit to you, is there?”
Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


This review is not for Edward Albee's brilliant play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, but for the equally brilliant recording of the original cast with Uta Hagen.

I am a fan of the movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, but much of the humor is missing from the movie. Here, in this recording, we can hear all of Albee's wonderfully dark humor. In the words of Martha: "I thought it was a scream. You laughed
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, drama
Holy smokes, this was hard to put down. It's riveting, a little vile, and dramatic to say the least. I'm so excited to talk about it in class this week. I'll probably come back and review it more properly then. Needless to say, this was excellent. ...more
Dave Schaafsma
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“George: Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Martha: I am, George. I am.”

“Martha: Truth or illusion, George; you don't know the difference.
George: No, but we must carry on as though we did.
Martha: Amen.”

The fiftieth anniversary production of the play, which is one of the greatest plays ever written, a masterpiece of the theater.

The story of an important night in the lives of two academic couples, George and Martha, older, and Nick and Honey, new to the small co
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This falls under that category labelled AWKWARD SOCIAL GATHERING.

You ever been to a party where the host and hostess get totally hammered and spend the rest of the evening humiliating each other? If you haven't, I don't believe you, number one, and number two, you're a lucky bastard. It's awkward and uncomfortable and lemme tell you, it's not much better if you're the drunken host and hostess either. No one's having a good time, no matter how much liquor is consumed, keep that in mind.

The theate
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, theater buffs, fans of dysfunctional relationships
This is, in my opinion, the best play ever written in the 20th century. There's also a great story about how this was the first drama rejected by the Pulitzer Prize committee for "obscenity" (you may have a hard time finding the obscenity in it, though, since it's from 1962). It's basically about two married couples who hang out in the wee hours of the morning following a party on a college campus in New England, but the interesting part is the way one couple tries to screw with the other's mind ...more
I will start off with the good. This is a lightning fast play with banter. There are pages of dialogue with each character saying one or two words and it just bounces back and forth. I read this and I haven't seen it, but it would be interesting to see how this plays on stage. I would think it would be even more vicious. I think the dialogue is pretty incredible.

The setting is tight. 3 acts in one home in one room with 4 characters and a whole lot of alcohol. These people get lit and then they w
I think I'm still processing, but WOW!

"We all peel labels, sweetie; and when you get through the skin, all three layers, through the muscle, slosh aside the organs [...] and get down to know what you do then?
[...] When you get down to bone, you haven't got all the way, yet. There's something inside the bone...the marrow...and that's what you gotta get at.”
Procreation is the fundamental essence of human life. It is for this reason that all human goes through all the crossings of life, in the hope that when they are no longer in the world, somebody will be there to carry on their legacy forward. But, what happens to a couple who does not have a child? With what, the couple should hope, when the very essence of their being is refusing to them. It is this theme which the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? By the American writer, Edward Albee alongs ...more
May 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adults
This play makes me squirm with discomfort every time I read it. My mother raised me to be so conscious of manners that I'm practically Southern.

Even though George and Martha are just horrible, I can't help cackle at some of the insults they sling. When Martha says that George doesn't have "the stuff," my English Major heart is made happy. It's a totally perfect slam.

And who could not admire Albee's daring in using the term "monkey nipples"?
Kiran Bhat
Dec 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great book to study if you want to learn the extent to which dialogue can be used to say everything about a person, place, and time.
Nov 01, 2014 rated it liked it
---"What a dump!" Thus begins a most entertaining Albeography. The language shocked prissy critics in the early 60s. There's a lot of drinking, shrieking and insulting. Another play in which 2 couples snarl at each other and you wonder why someone doesn't say, "OK, we're going home!" But, if this was said, there'd be no play. ...more
The song Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? was featured in the Disney short film Three Little Pigs (1933), where two of the pigs are convinced they're safe from the wolf in their straw and twig houses.

In Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, George and Martha return home from a party with a younger couple, Nick and Honey, and end up downing a drink or two or ten during the night. Nick and Honey can't seem to drag themselves away from the revelling that seems more like a surreal nightmare of funho
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are simply no words.
Jul 12, 2007 rated it it was ok
The central theme of this play is living without pretense. It involves 4 characters (and you will hate each of them) who berate each other through three acts. People have always raved to me about it, but I must admit that I can't understand why - rather than being emotionally jarred and on-edge, I felt bored and irritated. Every character is so villianized that there is no "heart" to the play, not a single character one can relate to. It's an interesting piece of literature, but it's definitely ...more
Lia Jacobson
Mar 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Back and forth, back and forth, a husband and wife bicker. They bicker about each other. They bicker about their son. They bicker about the company. Back and forth, back and forth. If you like watching verbal arguments take place for hours at a time (more than hours, in book form), then this is the play novelette for you.
It wasn't so much the characters that bothered me, or why they were arguing, it was just the arguing itself. It seems this entire play is based on people picking away at
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jill by: Brandon Wicke
Picture the most awkward couple conversation you've ever had to witness. You know -- an argument on the day of their wedding; boozy, passive-aggressive comments that get called out; eye rolling and mutters; all that. Then multiply it by a million. Add some bipolar disorder/delusion/daddy issues/mommy issues/general emotional turmoil. That approaches -- approaches -- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Plays are such a distinct medium. Just in the diction and grammar, I find you can always tell when y
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was… intense.

I am not sure whether the relationship between Martha and George is highly dysfunctional or highly functional. They seem to live in a world of their own, a world that plays by their rules and not the other way around.

The presence of an audience, Honey and Nick, seems to only bring up either their worst or their best, depending on the point of view. As their games go on, instead of exposing themselves (how does one expose oneself when one already lives outside oneself?), Marth
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"There will be order and constancy... and I am unalterably opposed to it." (36)
I had previously wanted to read Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, but without a particular sense of urgency - until it was mentioned in a commentary on Strindberg's plays. Apparently, Albee was influenced by Strindberg; intrigued, I immediately ordered a copy, and ended up reading Albee's play in almost a single sitting. Powerful and mesmerizing (in the sense of hardly allowing you to avert your gaze), funny and also te
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
4.5* This play about a dysfunctional couple reads almost as well as it plays on stage. I have seen the film version with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (more than once) & I kept hearing their voices while I was reading.
Ted Wenskus
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm admittedly a little biased as I played Nick in a production of this, but Edward Albee is one of the truly great playwrights of the 20th century and this is one of his masterpieces. This unflinching look at living life without illusion is embodied in three acts that progress almost in real time through the course of an unforgettable evening of "fun and games." In fact, it is one of the most important evenings in these four characters' lives for reasons which I won't spoil here...

Is there a lo
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crackerjack 1962 play by Edward Albee. When it first played Broadway, critics were on hand to provide adjectives like "searing" and "corrosive" in its study of a middle-aged professor and his shrewish wife who "hold hostage" at an after-party an ambitious young professor and his mousy wife. But it's also brilliant. One critic whose name escapes me said that Albee had "breathed life into Naturalism" (which had previously been thought a dead approach to drama by the early 1960's).

By the way, if yo
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-lit
Must admit, the Burton-Taylor film compelled me to read it the first time. Somehow the alcoholic admixture enhanced the mood-changes that their relationship--and their psyches-- provided. Additionally, the actors' alcoholism, especially Burton's, gave resonance to the filmic portrayal of booze-induced breakdown.
It's been so long, and no longer on my shelf, that I shall have to look at Nichols-snippets online.
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Edward Franklin Albee III was 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 reflected a mastery and Americanization of the Theatre of the Absurd that found its peak in works by European playwrights ...more

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“I said I was impressed, Martha. I'm beside myself with jealousy. What do you want me to do, throw up?” 68 likes
“Martha: Truth or illusion, George; you don't know the difference.
George: No, but we must carry on as though we did.
Martha: Amen.”
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