Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hesitating Over Albee

By Russ Bickerstaff
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I’ve made my decision. It was a decision I’d made in overwhelming sunlight amidst a vicious humidity while sitting by a pool somewhere in a vast, labyrinthine suburban, residential area in Southwestern Florida. I had been sitting there reading the script to Pity—a one-act by Peter J. Woods. Woods has a talent  for the abstract, which becomes all the more abstract in extreme humidity. Under the influence of Woods’ words, massive amounts of citrus, heat and the pressure of intense humidity, I’d decided to spend the evening of my birthday watching Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? It opens on March 19th, a Thursday—and I’m going to be there. A Thursday opening is usually welcome, as it allows me more time for other shows on the weekend. This particular Thursday, however, happens to be my birthday, which is a bit of a concern. This IS Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? Do I really want to see three hours of tense, mid-century domestic drama on my birthday? 

 

I should point out that I have grown to love the work of Edward Albee after a fairly shaky introduction to the playwright. The first Albee play I saw was a Milwaukee Rep production of The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Though the Rep production was interesting, the play itself lacked any cohesive insight into whatever it was it was supposed to be saying, so I wasn’t all that happy with the playwright’s work until I happened to run into a pair of productions of Albee’s Zoo Story—one was the final show with Bialystock and Bloom and it featured a really brilliant performance by Jason Economus. The other was a staging at the Sunset Playhouse’s studio theatre produced by The Actor’s Group, which has since disappeared . . . Zoo Story was fascinating—Albee managed to powerfully construct a really impressive glance into the nature of humanity with a conversation between two strangers at a park bench. Clever stuff. Then I saw a recent Rep production of Seascape, featuring James Pickering as a man and Mark Corkins as lizard. It was refreshingly bizarre with a profound amount of insight for a play featuring talking lizards.

 

Now I finally have an opportunity to see the playwright’s best-known show and I guess I’ve decided to see it on my birthday. Yes, it’s dark, but Director Kirk Thomsen has promised that it’ll be a GOOD dark with an ear pointed towards the dark humor that animates the script.

 

A comprehensive preview of the show appears in this week’s upcoming Shepherd-Express. The show opens on the last day of winter. It should be fun . . .

 

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