Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Kim Taylor

Marin Classic Theatre opens its new season with another American classic: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Written by Edward Albee in 1962, it is more accessible and straightforward than some of his later works. But as with all Albee plays, the drama echoes an isolation that haunts its characters.

At first glance George and Martha (David Kester and Robyn Wiley) appear to be an integral part of the American education system – George, a professor of history and Martha, daughter of the college president. But it doesn’t take long to realize that the two are hopeless alcoholics that have been waging a strange intellectual war with each other for years. Sometimes psychological, sometimes guerrilla, sometimes open warfare, it is war, far more than love, that keeps the two together. As long as they are at war they don’t have to face the pure terror of a haunting loneliness, a nothing too frightening to bear.

For all you innocent or well-adjusted souls who haven’t felt this fear, let it be known that Albee didn’t invent it just to add a note of the profound to his drama. This “nothingness” has haunted human kind from the beginning of time and authors from Shakespeare to Earnest Hemingway have tried to give it shape and form: “To be or not to be?” Asks Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the old man in Hemingway’s A Clean, Well-Lighted Place prays, “Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.”

In Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf the haunting isolation of all the character’s lives is echoed in a song that they all sing throughout the play. The song, which contains the words of the title, is reminiscent of the children’s song, Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. Indeed, as the play progresses, we soon realize that the four grownups in this drama are really children whose physical features only grew into adulthood. While their bodies are at various points of aging, their minds and souls are stuck in preadolescence. What happens when such growth is halted? They are suddenly faced with the terror of an empty world.

When George and Martha have guests over, such as biology professor Nick (Ben Colteaux) and his wife Honey (Nicole Zeller), they are all reduced to playing psychological games that amount to a traumatic terrorist war against each other.

For tickets or more information on this excellent production directed by Artie Gilbert call (415) 892-7772 or visit: www.MCTheatre.com.

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