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The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  6,107 ratings  ·  213 reviews
Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Albee’s most provocative, daring, and controversial play since Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Goat won every major award for best new play of the year: the Tony, New York Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. In the play, Martin—a hugely successful architect who has just turned fifty—leads an ostensi ...more
Paperback, 110 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Harry N. Abrams (first published January 1st 2003)
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 ·  6,107 ratings  ·  213 reviews

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e. roy lee
Oct 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
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! ...more
Amy Nicole
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, library, plays, 2013
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
Anna Avian
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A tragicomic, mischievous marital drama. An exploration of the limits of modern, upper-middle-class, liberal tolerance. It poses serious questions about the uncontrollable nature of human sexuality.

“Is there anything anyone doesn’t get off on, whether we admit it or not?”
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
*Spoilers ahead* (I see that this is how people protect their reviews from fake outrage.)

It's not about bestiality. It's about infidelity in the embarrassingly dull marriages of financially successful babyboomer suburban Americans. It was basically one long discovery of the infidelity, so I didn't think it was anything special. Albee's way of brightening up dialogue and characters is weak, so the play doesn't end up doing much besdies showing us a man explaining and those close to him reacting t
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays-drama
*Dysfunctional is the New Normal*

We have four main characters in this play:

*Martin, a dad and a husband and a friend
*Stevie-a mother and a wife and a friend
*Billy-the son of Martin and Stevie
*Ross-the long-time best friend of Martin and Stevie

I laughed throughout each page, so much at times, that my eyes were tearing. I became annoyed with myself because every five minutes, I would have to remove my glasses, wipe my wet eyes as quickly as possible, and wait until my vision could re-focus, so I c
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
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
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays, dark
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
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
Nov 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
R.A. Pedersen
Jun 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
This work played a fundamental role my choice to leave graduate school while I was studying theatrical design. Perhaps my hatred of it is irrational and related to the surrounding events. However, I never liked it. I tolerated it as a project and as time wore on, and it garnered praise from others as being some grand writing denouement and well of deep insight.... I became more and more disgusted with the educational system and the self-praising nonsensical people within its echo chamber. So, ye ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jack Davidson
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you want to experience something brave, daring and edgy please read this. I can only imagine how dramatic and spectacular it would be to see this as a performance. Some might say that Albee goes too far with this one, I would say that he hits the mark perfectly. "The Goat" tackles questions and themes that our society kills itself to ignore. By bringing these things out of the shadows and onto the page (or stage), Albee invites us to understand more of the world that might make us feel uncomf ...more
I. Merey
A late middle aged man at the top of his career, in the bosom of his perfect family, on the eve of his birthday, decides to confess to his best friend that he is having a love affair with a certain Sylvia.
Sylvia is a goat.
The love affair is of a tab-a / slot-b varietal.
The horrified best friend feels morally compelled to reveal these infos to the man's wife.
Shenanigans ensue.
Ayne Ray
Oct 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
One of Albee's wittiest works, it takes a skilled craftsman to create such a funny and ultimately touching story of a man who falls in love guessed it...a goat. Unique, to say the least. ...more
Wes Young
Jan 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another great work! Greater questions of who, or what, we love and why. Tragicomic for sure.

L. Hager
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
An amusing play in the style of Edward Albee; good to read, better to see performed.
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: play, read-in-2015
Very good. A challenging subject. I remember the furor over the language of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. This too will infuriate the prudes. ...more
Bryan Cebulski
Oct 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Hilarious and uncomfortable first two acts and an inexplicable final act.
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
K York
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
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
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Davin Allan
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 01, 2011 rated it liked it

"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)
Britt MacKenzie-Dale
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
A darkly funny and insightful glimpse into relationships, social norms, and love. Not only imaginative but culturally apt, Albee turns the absurd into the universal. Stevie is written with refreshing nuance. This is a gut-wrenching meditation on morality and personhood--on the sacrosanct and, perhaps, its flimsiness.

"We prepare for... things, for lessings, even; inevitable... lessenings, and we think we can handle everything, whatever comes along, but we don't know, do we! Do we."
Matthew Reeder
Jun 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
I love Edward Albee. He forever changed the notion of narrative, character and purpose of drama for me.

This play, however, is a pile of garbage that seems, at best, like Edward Albee trying his best to write an Edward Albee play and failing miserably.

Read A Delicate Balance, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Zoo Story, Box and Quotations or Tiny Alice and ESPECIALLY read The Play About The Baby and leave Goat in the recycle bin where it belongs.

Have I mentioned I that I hate this play?
Oct 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Mildly amusing, a little bit crazy and quite offensive. This play is well written and worth a quick read, but really I just found it okay.

On second thoughts, I'm upgrading to 3 stars, this really is worth more.
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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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