Let me join in the hosannahs for the Pam MacKinnon-directed revival of Edward Albee‘s 1962 play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
It’s the classic about two university couples having to deal with the loss of the imaginary children that bound them, and doing so via booze, verbiage, wounding, and desperate regrouping.
In this production, Amy Morton is the disappointed Martha, going for a more naturalistic tone than the role usually gets.
As she calls her associate professor husband George (Tracy Letts) “a cluck”, “paunchy”, “swampy”, and “a flop”, Morton does so with a sort of dark affection that makes it clear these two get off on this kind of verbal ping pong.
Morton is wonderful, and so is Letts, who’s wound up and bitter, challenging everything people say with a kind of twisted logic that cuts through all niceties.
If he’d been born decades later, this George probably would have gotten his own cable news show.
Enter a young professor (Madison Dirks) and his mousy wife (Carrie Coon), who are clearly the new George and Martha, and you’ve got an alternately funny and chilling night of games like “Humiliate the Host,” “Hump the Hostess,” and “Get the Guests.”
When George and Martha go from pushing each other’s buttons to pushing each other off emotional cliffs, the chatter turns extra powerful.
The three-plus hour, three-act play is done with a crackling intelligence, a sense of immediacy and realness making the material fresh again.
In the audience, no one coughs. No one even texts.
Who’s recommending this Virginia Woolf?
I am, George. I am.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 19, 2012