by Sam Mooney
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I am. Still. But…
It’s the content that scares me, not the performances. Soulpepper Theatre Company’s presentation of Edward Albee’s play is stunningly good.
Overheard at the end of the performance – ‘Ugh. I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. That’s the way I’m supposed to feel. That was an amazing experience.”
And it was.
My show partner Elaine and I both were a bit afraid of the play. It’s been years since either of us has seen the classic movie and we really couldn’t remember much detail. It was the gut-wrenching angst that stayed with us.
Elaine’s answers to the three questions pretty much summed up my experience.
‘Overall what did you think of the show?’ I enjoyed it immensely. The content was a bit difficult but the performances were so fabulous.
‘What did you like best?’ The performances, they were amazing. All the actors were fabulous.
‘What did you like least?’ Elaine had to think a bit before she said that maybe the set was a bit disappointing. She had to reach for that though.
For both of us it was the performances that made the evening.
Nancy Palk as Martha was perfect. Not one wrong note. It’s be easy to cross the line into caricature in a role this emotionally wide-ranging. She didn’t. Her Martha was a real person.
Diego Matamoros as George was the perfect foil. Dry, witty, deceptively accepting of Martha’s jabs. Diego also plays the Critic in The Guardsman. Impressive, that he can be in two plays that are running at the same time.
I didn’t realize that it was a three-act play. It runs for 3 and a half hours with two 15 minute intermissions. That’s a lot of angst. The first act was funny, vicious but funny.
The second act was not funny. I found it very difficult and if I had been on my own I might have not gone back for the third act. I’m glad I did. The third act had some humour to ease the tension a bit.
Go see Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Just be prepared for difficult content. This is not an evening of light entertainment.
Photo of Nancy Palk, Tim Campbell, Diego Matamoros and Diana Donnelly by Cylla von Tiedemann
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is playing at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (55 Mill St) in the Distillery District until October 24.
– Performances Tuesday through Saturday at 7.30 pm with matinees at 1.30 on Wednesday and Saturday
– Ticket prices range from $28 to $68 and are available online or through the box office at 416.866.8666