This is, quite simply, one of my all time favourite plays There is a film version, with Burton and Taylor as the two main characters, and while this isn’t a bad version (and it is in glorious black and white) I think that film struggles with words and this is a wordy play And then there is that bizarre scene when they leave the house which makes no sense at allI first read this play in high school and had to do a reading of the play in front of the class Naturally, I was Nick, as the teacher was George There is a nice fact that Albee is supposed to have said he had no idea of the significance of calling his major characters George and Martha – and definitely did not mean any reference to the first President of the United States and his missus I find this a little hard to believe – either way, fate has stepped in and this fact remains, intentional or otherwise I've always thought it adds something interesting to the play.This might as well be two plays On the surface there is a couple who look like they are about to tear each other apart This reads like a ‘moments before the divorce’ play – and you would be stretched to find a play in which there are deeper feelings of hostility orsavage attacks between a married couple But this is only on a surface level The depth of affection and love between George and Martha is really the point of the play – the games they play are quite literally played so as to keep each other sane And this is not the only contradiction between our initial impressions and ‘reality’ Honey (has there ever been aperfect name?) comes across at the start of the play as a mousey little moron of a wife, who puffs up with child to get her hands on a husband only to deflate again once the ring is on her finger To look at her you might think she was completely incapable of sustaining a pregnancy and that this is the point – but actually, her life is spent having to drink brandy (never mix, never worry) to end a constant string of pregnancies This, of course, stands in stunning contrast to Martha, who comes across as the earth mother but in reality is incapable of having children.George comes across as a pathetic creature at the start of the play, unable to satisfy his wife who considers him so ineffectual that she doesn't even pretend to hide her flirtations with other men – but by the end we realise that he has completely controlled all of the action in the entire play and everything that has happened has happened due to his choices and his decisions There are possibly few modern plays with aGod like character More than this, everything that happens, happens due to his great love of Martha – something that seems incomprehensible at the start of the play as they are tearing strips off each other.I went to see this play a year or so ago and was almost reduced to tears towards the end The older I get theI find that the sorts of things that are most likely to make me want to cry are not the sorts of things that might have had that affect on me when I was young Then I would have been just as likely to have become upset over unrequited love or such something I find a little dull now Today I find what is almost too painful to handle is love that is based on a deep acceptance of who we are – if someone can love us for our scars, for ourselves – warts and all I am almost invariably reduced to tears At the end of Therapy when the main character kisses the mastectomy scar of what had been his childhood sweetheart I was virtually a blubbering mess But of course, such love only exists in fiction and that is, perhaps, its main role.Fortunately, I’m too much of a boy to be caught crying in theatres – particularly over plays I know quite so well as I know this one (I must have read it a dozen times over the years) All the same, watching Gary McDonald recite the requiem mass at the end of the play as Martha realises that her son is truly dead and must remain so for them to continue to have any access to him at all was as close as I would like to be to tears in a grossly public place.This is a truly devastating play, a play that shines and shines, a work of sheer power and genius It is also one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen I don’t think it is possible to love this play anythan I do. I don't often read plays but I absolutely loved Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? for its cinematic, almost comedic style, it's colourful characters and its timelessness Definitely a classic that everyone should read. I have to invent a new word after this play: sadvicious As in, sad and vicious, ineluctably intertwined, till death do them part There's also the wicked humor of the play, for which I don't have a new word, a heartbreaking hilarity that keeps pace with the emotional maelstrom This is an absolutely brilliant work. A threeact play about the illusions that sustain two couples, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf follows the aging George and Martha as they entertain and terrorize the recently married Nick and Honey one night after the end of a university faculty party The evening starts off on an unpleasant note in the former couple's home, and the situation only further deteriorates as the increasingly intoxicated small group stumbles toward dawn Albee's acerbic wit is at its strongest here, and in contrast to many of his plays, the plot rarely feels tedious or drawn out. Holy smokes, this was hard to put down It's riveting, a little vile, and dramatic to say the least I'm so excited to talk about it in class this week I'll probably come back and review itproperly then Needless to say, this was excellent. “There's no limit to you, is there?” Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?This review is not for Edward Albee's brilliant play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, but for the equally brilliant recording of the original cast with Uta Hagen I am a fan of the movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, but much of the humor is missing from the movie Here, in this recording, we can hear all of Albee's wonderfully dark humor In the words of Martha: I thought it was a scream You laughed your head off Hagen's performance as Martha is legendary and still discussed with reverence to this day A recording of the play’s original cast, featuring the great Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill, was rereleased in 2014 Taped in a studio just a few months into the run, its return offers a rare opportunity to pull back the curtain of time and experience, with a different kind of intimacy, on one of the major theatrical events of the 20th century.With its cast of just four characters, each with a distinctive voice, taking place in the course of one long, boozesodden night, in a single setting, the play has minimal action, and if you’ve seen it onstage you’ll be easily able to supply the visual punctuation marks for the few moments that lose something in translation to audioonly format: George’s sudden brandishing of a (fake) gun, or his violent flinging of snapdragons at his wife as their boxing bout moves into the final rounds Albee’s writing itself provides all you really need for the play’s visceral intensity to hit home: highly literate, stippled with corrosive wit and bristling with combativeness, it doesn’t really require much in the way of staging to work its wounding magic All that’s needed are four great actors, and the four who starred in the debut production give performances that, even some 50 years later, still feel fresh, fierce and definitive.No one will ever outshine Hagen’s Martha.There’s something particularly satisfying about hearing the performance You can appreciate the mighty range of Hagen’s vocal resources — and her unerring ability to wring every ounce of emotional truth from a line.Am I gushing? Yes But rarely has an audio recording of a play moved and affected me like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Twelve times a week, answered Uta Hagen when asked how often she'd like to play Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In the same way, audiences and critics alike could not get enough of Edward Albee's masterful play A dark comedy, it portrays husband and wife George and Martha in a searing night of dangerous fun and games By the evening's end, a stunning, almost unbearable revelation provides a climax that has shocked audiences for years With the play's razorsharp dialogue and the stripping away of social pretense, Newsweek rightly foresaw Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? as a brilliantly original work of artan excoriating theatrical experience, surging with shocks of recognition and dramatic fire [that] will be igniting Broadway for some time to come This play is so fucked I don't know whether it's genius or madness Probably both. “George: Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?Martha: I am, George I am.”“Martha: Truth or illusion, George; you don't know the difference.George: No, but we must carry on as though we did.Martha: Amen.”The fiftieth anniversary production of the play, which is one of the greatest plays ever written, a masterpiece of the theater.https://www.playbill.com/video/highliThe story of an important night in the lives of two academic couples, George and Martha, older, and Nick and Honey, new to the small college Their meeting takes place after a drunken faculty party, very late, and goes on all night til dawn The showcase here is the older couple, who treat each other both viciously and amusingly They use language to maim each other, but also to amuse each other They invent “games” such as Get the Guest or Hump the Host, through which they hurt each other, but also hurt their guests But do they love each other? Can they heal?And alcohol is present on every page, they never stop drinking:“ we cry, and we take our tears, and we put 'em in the ice box, in the goddamn ice trays until they're all frozen and then we put them in our drinks.”So it all appears initially to be uselessly mean, cleverly drunken chatter, but there’s a method in the madness, to get beneath the small talk to the meaning of life, what they need to keep their relationships alive and thriving: To do away with surface chatter and really live and love each other To shatter the illusions through which they have been living If possible.“Honey: (Apologetically, holding up her brandy bottle) I peel labels.George: We all peel labels, sweetie; and when you get through the skin, all three layers, through the muscle, slosh aside the organs (An aside to Nick) them which is still sloshable(Back to Honey) and get down to bone you know what you do then?Honey: (Terribly interested) No!George: When you get down to bone, you haven't got all the way, yet There's something inside the bone the marrow and that's what you gotta get at (A strange smile at Martha)”Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? They all are, we all are And to not be afraid? How do we achieve that? For that George and Martha in particular, though Nick and Honey, too, need a Walpurgisnacht, a kind of bloodletting and a violent tearing away of illusions to get to the core of a relationship And this is the very night when it all goes down, and it isn’t always fun, but it can be exhilarating Here’s one moment of recognition and clarity for Martha:“George, who is out somewhere there in the dark, who is good to me whom I revile, who can keep learning the games we play as quickly as I can change them Who can make me happy and I do not wish to be happy And yes, I do wish to be happy George and Martha: Sad, sad, sad Whom I will not forgive for having come to rest; for having seen me and having said: ‘Yes, this will do’ Who has made the hideous, the hurting, the insulting mistake of loving me, and must be punished for it George and Martha Sad, sad, sad.”A kind of symbol for both couples of the illusions they need to face down is a nonexistent child, powerfully and almost surreally, tragicomically, present throughout There was nothing quite like it in theater before it, and many influenced by it since I recommend your seeing a production, of course, including the great Academy Awardwinning film with Richard Burton, Liz Taylor who, having been married and divorced three times understood epic marital conflict), George Segal and Sandy Dennis, which I saw again in awe. This is, in my opinion, the best play ever written in the 20th century There's also a great story about how this was the first drama rejected by the Pulitzer Prize committee for obscenity (you may have a hard time finding the obscenity in it, though, since it's from 1962) It's basically about two married couples who hang out in the wee hours of the morning following a party on a college campus in New England, but the interesting part is the way one couple tries to screw with the other's minds for their own personal enjoyment There's waaayto it than that, but I'll save it for my students Lots of symbolism, historical references and absurdist influences (and a surprise ending) By the way, like many plays, it's not the greatest read; to really do it justice, you have to see it perfromed I recommend the 1966 film version directed by Mike Nichols, starring Liz Taylor and Richard Burton Maybe this shouldn't be on GoodReads I wish there was a site called GoodPlays or something.