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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
By Edward Albee
(Albee Bio)

Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin
With Mireille Enos and David Harbour

Presented by Elizabeth Ireland McCann, Daryl Roth,
Terry Allen Kramer, Scott Rudin, Roger Berlind,
James L. Nederlander, and Nick Simuneck

Longacre Theatre
220 West 48th Street

Directed by Anthony Page
Scenic Design: John Lee Beatty
Costume Design: Jane Greenwood
Lighting Design: Peter Kaczorowski
Sound Design: Mark Bennett
Press: Shirley Herz Associates/Sam Rudy
Production Stage Manager: Susie Cordon
Casting: Jay Binder, CSA, Jack Bowdan, CSA/Laura Stanczyk, CSA
Fight Director: Rick Sordelet
Associate General Manager: Elizabeth M. Blitzer
Marketing: HHC Marketing

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 15, 2005, Matinee

In this dour, academic mini-jungle, with Martha (daughter of the small New England town’s college president and devouring wife of one of its has-been history professors), George (the has-been history professor and equally devouring husband of Martha), Nick (up and coming hunk, biology professor and cagey husband of Honey), and Honey (mousy, inebriated wife of Nick and devoured prey of George), a feeding frenzy is witnessed from start to finish. Marital discord gone martial arts. Verbal kicks to the jugular and beyond build in speed and momentum like a tornado in the belly.

Kathleen Turner epitomizes the worn-out-but-still-going-strong (no svelte, smooth model here) Martha, Albee’s frustrated and frustrating “earth mother”, who changes from an academic social suit to a cleavage-popping, silky pants outfit, and who attempts to verbally castrate not one but two men in the time it takes most women to just change outfits. Bill Irwin, as George, at first looks like available prey, but I just said “attempts”, and this plain-dressed, worn-out-but-still-going-strong “enemy/husband/lover” knows how to self-protect, surround, and suddenly pounce upon his “enemy/wife/lover”. I have seen milder animal behavior among jungle animals at the zoo.

George expects a quiet evening’s fistfight, to culminate his repressed seething at an academic party on a September Saturday night, but he gets more. Martha has planned for “company”, and they not only devour each other but also play “Get the Guests”. The evening’s clawing, biting, and chewing on each other’s deepest fears and softest wounds include “outing” two pregnancy secrets, unexpected sex, and a twist of fate that turns the “hunk” into a “houseboy”. David Harbour as hunk/houseboy with his own “outed” marital secrets is equally up to the task of split-timed personality changes and a solo sparring match of his own with devious George.

Mireille Enos as Nick’s sweet but savvy wife, does not hold the alcohol that flows all night, and her strongest physicality seems to be offstage on a cold floor, in an inebriated fetal position. Yet, one moment of physicality seems to serve as a watershed moment, as Nick and Martha dance, and her face and body language change from hard-taut to smooth-undulating. All four actors are mesmerizing, as the layers of their daring and defenses are slowly peeled apart by the jungle experts, Martha and George. All four actors and the revival play itself have been nominated for 2005 Tony awards!

Anthony Page’s direction is superb, and he deserved a Tony nomination for his interpretation of this remarkable psychological adventure. John Lee Beatty’s frumpy furniture and mousy brown set generate just the right amount of discomfort, so the audience can share in the gut-wrenching gyrations within this human cage of a home. The windows are magnificent, with bits of snarling trees in the distance. Jane Greenwood’s costumes somewhat evoke the 1960’s, but even today a cleavage-popping outfit, such as Ms. Turner’s seductive prop, would serve just as well to facilitate the evening’s acid experiments.

Before or after seeing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Longacre, stop by Amarone restaurant on Ninth Avenue and 48th Street, and ask for Tony. Tell him you saw him on

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Photo courtesy of Carol Rosegg

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Photo courtesy of Carol Rosegg

Amarone Ladies, Hosts at the Bar
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at