Edward Albee’s Brilliant Journey Into Heterosexual Imbalance

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
One of Playwright Edward Albee’s (1928-2016) brilliant works, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is now at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia until February 4th, 2024.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was famously denied a Pulitzer Prize in 1963 because many of the judges believed it to be immoral, as it reveled in profane language and alcohol. Of course, Edward Albee had the sweetest revenge. He won three subsequent Pulitzer Prizes for A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975), and Three Tall Women (1994). Few may remember the original cast starring Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill. Famously, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton seared their interpretations into our brains in their 1966 film. Curiously, Albee first asked for Bette Davis and James Mason for Martha and George, but settled for Taylor and Burton, whom he found to be good. He disliked the music, which he found maudlin and sentimental. 
Luckily, the Walnut Street Theatre found two exceptional actors to assume the grueling roles. Greg Wood, and Susan Riley Stevens deliver legendary performances. Not once during the nearly three hours of the drama did our attention wander during their unforgettable performances. As the hapless young couple, Brandon O’Rourke (Nick) and Anna D. Bailey (Honey) proved themselves in their difficult and later fiery roles as foils to the shenanigans of George and Martha. Starting off as enigmas using few words, alcohol lubricated the two into revealing themselves, slowly, but surely, to the probings of the seasoned raptors. 
Roman Tatarowicz created a set design of beauty and efficiency, telegraphing the old, beautiful house George and Martha lived in, with he as assistant professor and she the daughter of the President of the small New England college town where the story takes place. 
It’s 1962, and both George and Martha have just returned from yet another party thrown by Martha’s father, the college President, where Martha was charmed by the young faculty member newly hired and his wife. Martha impetuously, and boozily, invited them over this very night, to their home. George was incredulous that they accepted the invitation, since it was two-thirty in the morning. Spoiler alert: they shouldn’t have! But, they did. 
Alcohol, bottles of it, flowed among the four, and all sorts of secrets and dark passions bubbled up, changing all of them for the rest of their lives. 
Director Bernard Havard and Assistant Director Mary Martello allowed their acting quartet free reign on stage. Seldom have we seen more passionate foreplay onstage than Martha and Nick cavorting sensuously for quite a long time. They were hot. 
Scanning the program, you might have noticed that the dashing, young actor Jeff Coons is now the dashing, young Director of Development for the Walnut Street Theatre. Welcome, Jeff!
Seldom seen for so many practical reasons, this production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? deserves your attention. It is great theater at its finest. 
Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is now onstage at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia until February 4, 2024. For information, and to purchase tickets, visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org .

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