Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Review

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Comedy Theatre

Red Stitch

The Comedy Theatre
29 Jun – 14 Jul
More Info

As a musical theatre devotee, venturing into the world of plays was uncharted territory for me. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? became my baptism by fire, and what a baptism it was! Despite its three-hour runtime (including intermissions), the play left a lasting impression, even if I’m still grappling with how I feel about it.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?The story unfolds through a single night. We meet Martha and George, a long-married couple, returning home at 2 am. They invite a younger couple, Nick and Honey, for a nightcap, and what ensues is a whirlwind of conversation, from getting-to-know-you pleasantries to heated arguments, along with unexpected bursts of singing, dancing, and fantasy.

The audience becomes an uncomfortable participant in this unfolding drama. As the night descends into chaos, we, much like the younger couple, feel like the proverbial fifth wheel.

The brilliance of the play lies in the phenomenal performances. Kat Stewart and David Whiteley embody Martha and George with raw and believable chemistry. Their portrayal is a rollercoaster of love and loathing, with one moment filled with affection and the next dripping with disdain. Their familiarity with each other is palpable, allowing them to inflict pain or reignite passion with a single word or gesture. The acting is so seamless, you might believe they’re a real-life couple.

Emily Goddard and Harvey Zielinski as Honey and Nick provide a perfect counterpoint. Nick bravely stands up to George’s barbs, while Honey shines with a captivating interpretive dance in the second act.

The play cleverly weaves in elements that resonate with the audience. There are glimpses of a Basil Fawlty-Sybil dynamic and moments of mundane conversation reminiscent of Seinfeld. The effective use of lighting and subtle music further enhances the mood.

So, after three hours, we are left with a lingering question: what was it all about? Perhaps that’s the mark of a truly impactful play. The director’s intention might be to leave the audience pondering and piecing together the clues, just like I am a day later.

Overall, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? proved to be a powerful and thought-provoking experience.

Tim Gyhs

Tim Gyhs

Although Tim is relatively new to attending musicals, he and his family (wife and two daughters, ages 8 and 6) have been exploring the world of musical theater with enthusiasm. As a teacher with 20 years of experience, Tim has also helped to write, direct, and produce four original primary school musicals.
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