Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? review at Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling – ‘a sparkling revival’

Sara Stewart in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling
Sara Stewart in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling
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Director Michael Emans delivers a sparkling, sprawling Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He lets Edward Albee's script breathe. He glories in the language and its destructive power.

Robin Kingsland's academic George and Sara Stewart, as his wife Martha, pick away at the dark and hollow pain in their marriage as they invite newly arrived couple Nick and Honey for late night drinks. Their games question what is real and whether it is sometimes better to hold on to the imaginary.

Stewart’s braying, vulgar Martha displays the casual arrogance and unpredictability of the functioning alcoholic. It's a performance which doesn't need a plunging red dress in order for her to command the stage.

Kingsland's George is buttoned-up and put-upon but is clearly hiding an inner strength. Particularly in his one-to-one chats with Nick, who Paul Albertson gives an innate sense of superiority and a ripple of violence.

He roars into the delicately handled ending, finding the source of the terror in his marriage, as it subsides into something quite frail and very human.

Emans finds comedy in the ironies in the play. Rose Reynolds, as Nick's upchucking wife, Honey, is constantly alert, but never plays it for laughs.

Less successful is Frances Collier's thin-walled touring set which looks distractingly like the living room of an aspiring intellectual than that of a working academic – even a failing one in a small New England college.

 

Verdict
Sprawling but potently performed touring production of Albee’s towering play
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