THE ARTRIX studio could not have been a better setting for All and Sundry’s latest offering – a stage version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
This intense drama centres around the bitter and frustrated relationship of George and Martha who, after a university faculty party, embroil younger couple Nick and Honey into a night of deadly game playing.
It features just four characters and explores middle-age marriage breakdown, psychological relationships, human feelings and more.
The smaller venue chosen provided an unbelievably claustrophobic feeling and, with the actors almost toe-to-toe with the front row during some argumentative confrontations and other explosive moments, it was exactly what was needed. You felt like you had literally sneaked into someone’s living room to get a ‘fly on the wall’ insight into how they lived their lives.
The other important aspect about this play is the casting has to be spot on – and it was. You could see director Vanessa Morgan had chosen four very talented actors and put them in exactly the right roles.
Barbara Treen was excellent as Martha who, full of venom for the most part and full of sadness for others, made you loathe her sometimes and occasionally pity her and her life.
Andrew Corcoran made the role of supposedly brow-beaten husband, but often equally as feisty, George his own and dominated the stage when he needed to.
Ed Butler was wonderful as ‘new-boy’ Nick who was full of motivation and hope for the job he was due to start and Sarah Feltham brought the ‘fragile’ Honey’s character to life. There were times when you really felt for her and the situation she had unwittingly been caught up in.
This play flits erratically from moments of laughter to deep intensity and shocking aggressive and abusive scenes and likewise, as you watched, your empathy flitted from one character to another. That was a true testament to the high quality of the acting on show.
Overall this performance was intense psychological theatre at its best and is well worth seeing when it moves to the Palace Theatre in Redditch this week.
It was also made all the more poignant with the news that the show’s writer Edward Albee, who had a superb story to tell and told it so well, passed away yesterday morning (Saturday) at the age of 88.