Premiere issue Autumn 2002

Who's afraid of Edward Albee?

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Written by Edward Albee
Produced by the Blank Theatre Company in association with The San Diego Repertory Theatre

Second Stage
6500 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, Calif.
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 2 through September 22, 2002.

Just when you thought it was safe to go to the theater with your spouse, The Blank Theater Company brings the San Diego Repertory Theatre's production of that old bugaboo, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" to Hollywood to confound and shock the most blissful of married couples. Be prepared to defend yourself from attack for at least 48 hours after the curtain call.

This excellent production shows once again that this play has lost none of its disturbing value with time. It is impossible not to react to what happens on stage, not to be horrified and titilated, often at the same time. It is also the fate of the audience (as in many other Edward Albee plays) to walk out into the summer evening not quite sure what the author's exact point may be.

But the give and go between the two couples is so engrossing, so engaging when it's not off-putting, that access to the other levels in which the play operates almost seems less important in the moment than upon reflection after the play is over.

The principals, George (Mike Genovese) and Martha (Ellen Crawford), are of course the center of the drama. Their cruel and sometimes silly games keep the action throbbing, especially after they draw in the unassuming new professor and his wife (Peter Friedrich and Ginger Williams), culminating in the second act grotesquery which the playwright accurately titles Walpurgis Night.

Genovese gives a fine edgy performance as the embattled husband whose career, as Martha informs him, is in a bog. Following all his twists and turns is fascinating. Crawford on the other hand, though clearly a gifted actress, seems a little miscast, lacking the heft we expect in Martha. She attempts to make up for this lack with a kind of rasping quality which works sometimes and not others. Friedrich seems a little too modern, but is generally satisfactory. Williams starts weakly but gains credibility as the going gets tough. Director Todd Salovey guides them with a fine hand.

Harold Clurman, who was there at its opening in October of 1962, though appreciating many of its strengths, mistakenly predicted a minor place for this play in the Albee canon. Seeing this masterful production 40 years later, one cannot doubt its power and endurance. Virginia Woolf will no doubt be around for a long time, to torment and captivate us.

Review by T.S. Kerrigan. T.S. is a writer living in Los Angeles, Calif.

Autumn 2002 Theater Section | Autumn 2002 Main Page
Current Theater Section | Current Home Page