STARK NAKED THEATRE DELIVERS A SIZZLING PRODUCTION OF WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
BY D. L. GROOVERMONDAY, MARCH 7, 2016
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I hope set designer Kevin Rigdon had the foresight to put aside some money in his budget for extra paint, because Stark Naked Theatre’s white-hot, blistering production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? peels it right off the walls. SNT should also have a dermatologist on call, not only for the actors whose skins gets surgically flayed, but also for the audience’s safety. Not since the dungeons of the Inquisition has slow torture been this exquisite – or brutal.
Albee’s masterpiece (1962), the standard bearer for every American family dysfunctional play that followed, remains in a class all its own. Nobody does black comedy better; no one has ever been as bitchy, as clever, as raw as Albee at his prime. Corrosively comic yet mundanely tragic, Woolf is American drama at some kind of pinnacle. Stark Naked doesn’t let Albee down, and this production, at least acting-wise, is as definitive as you can find. (If only Rigdon’s lighting would be as atmospheric as is his claustrophobic book-lined living room set with built-in ceiling. He keeps the lights on throughout, a harsh overhead glare. We don’t know anything of the midnight, the moon, or the finale’s daybreak except when someone informs us what time it is. Perhaps this is intentional: an interrogation room where the lights are always on and nobody sleeps. Maybe. But the play’s delicious artifice gets tossed aside.)
But why carp when Albee blazes with such searing heat? We’re in extra-fine hands, led throughout by perspicacious director Jennifer Dean who keeps this three-hour drama on constant high simmer. She knows exactly when to turn up the heat, scalding us all. Just be warned, though, those hands, armed with razors, lash out with cunning speed, inflicting death by a thousand cuts as the characters’ pretenses are literally stripped bare. They wound each other with gleeful, ghoulish relish.
This blood-letting from long-married couple George and Martha (Philip Lehl and Kim Tobin-Lehl, married in real life which gives the play extra frisson) is just another ritual in their love/hate relationship as hosts of this after-party from hell. Drunk and rowdy, vulgar Martha……….. READ THE FULL ARTICLE ”
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf continues through March 26 at Studio 101, Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring Street. For more information, call 832-866-6514 or visit starknakedtheatre.com.