Whose of Afraid of Virgina Woolf (Harold Pinter Theatre)

The second of my Albee double header – I saw The Goat, or Who is Sylvia last night and I’d enjoyed it, but this was something else.

I’d never seen the Liz Taylor, Richard Burton film, and I’m glad I hadn’t because I would have known something of what to expect. As it was… I was completely bowled over.

Firstly by the writing, Albee has undoubtedly written one of the most enduringly brilliant plays of all time. The writing is as fresh as if it were written yesterday by the most trailblazing of contemporary writers. There was no loving this nostalgically as we so often do with ‘classics’, but in this production of Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf I felt every word as keenly as if I were on stage too.

Now to the acting. This is a play that could possibly define a career – and although Imelda Staunton’s career is already beautifully defined, I think in this performance (and following from her remarkable Gypsy recently) she cements her place as Britain’s foremost actor stage actor. But Staunton was matched stride for stride by her on stage husband Conleth Hill (most famously the Eunuch in Game of Thrones) who was equally breathtaking.

For those, like me, who don’t know what WAOVW is about – it concerns a post dinner drunken afterparty on a college campus – two couples, one at the beginning of their marriage, one very much established. The drinks and the tensions flow and as the night wears on the lives of the protagonists are in danger of being irreparably changed.

This will be one of the major highlights of the year.


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