If ever there was a play to see in your lifetime it has to be Edward Albee‘s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright creates work that errs on the edge of voyeurism and what reality actually is. Funnily, when people asked Albee what this famous classic was about, he often said it was about three hours long! And he’s not wrong. Brace yourself for an evening of intense theatre that goes for over three hours. Directed by James McDonald comes a masterclass in acting from four outstanding actors; Imelda Staunton, Conleth Hill, Imogen Poots and Luke Treadaway.
The play explores rather dark themes however manages to do so with great wit and exceptional use of the English language. The aim is to provoke audiences to think about their own lives even if they have never been through the emotional trauma that these characters have been through, particularly Martha and George. The complexities of this play go beyond the surface and leave you questioning what is real and what is an illusion. This work is in fact still quite relevant today.
Given the gravity of this emotionally and mentally draining work, the performances are incredibly powerful. And even though you don’t have to have experienced these situations for yourself, you can sympathise and understand the characters’ turmoils. The partnership between Staunton and Hill is an absolute pleasure to see. Their commitment to each other, the way in which they support each other and the way they raise the stakes is textbook professional. While it is unnerving to see their character’s journey escalate and then fall dramatically it does make you wonder what the true nature of their relationship is. Do they have an unconditional love or are they cruel to each other? This is the beauty of Albee’s work.
At the end of the three hour long play you will need a moment to let it all settle in so be sure to head along with a friend or avid theatre lover so you can debrief about it all. It will be a conversation starter for many weeks and performances that will stand the test of time.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is running in select cinemas from tomorrow August 19th. Find a city and cinema near you that is screening it, right here. Next up is Angels in America starring Andrew Garfield. We cannot wait for that!