Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Goat or Who Is Sylvia"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark

Who is sylvia?

by Edward Albee
Directed by Spiro Veloudos

Lighting Design by Robert Cordella
Scenic Design by Brynna C. Bloomfield
Costume Design by Shanna Parks
Props Artisan Brynna C. Bloomfield
Executive Producer Rebecca Low
Assistant Stage Manager Aliza Ross
Production Stage Manager Nerys Powell

Stevie.........Paula Plum
Martin...Stephen Schnetzer
Ross..........Richard Snee
Billy........Tasso Feldman

After the performance, I heard someone say "It's a commentary on..." but I didn't catch on what, and another declaring "It's a Greek Tragedy!" And these are typical of a critical habit of Analyzing Edward Albee's plays --- even though ever since "Tiny Alice" forty years ago Albee has been at great pains to ground his plays in contemporary reality. In his latest, there is a perfect portrait of a rich, spoiled, only-son adolescent experimenting with being gay. Tasso Fedlman embodies this combative, dogmatically indecisive brat whose epiphany comes when he bestows a homosexual kiss of commitment on his own father. Yet this neatly economic "commentary" is thoroughly upstaged by Dad's own predicament: he's been carnally committed for several months to an extra-marital affair with a farmyard goat he's decided is named Sylvia.

The revelation of this new love does indeed bring on Greek-like destruction. Dad's best-friend of forty years --- a television interviewer with a Dutch-Uncle impulse, brilliantly played by Richard Snee --- lays out the bottom-line: you'll be discovered, kneeling behind her, your pants around your ankles, and it'll be all over.

And Stephen Schnetzer's Martin has a Lot to lose: on his 50th birthday, distracted by memory lapses and fear of Alzheimer's, he's accepted recognition as the world's best architect and working on a City of The Future. Brynna C. Bloomfield has given him a tastefully neo-Bauhaus living-room that is both a public display of art-objects and a comfortable living-space. At least until the shit hits the fan with Martin's dreamy-eyed confession.

Until then, Martin and his wife Stevie are an ideally loving couple neither of whom have ever even contemplated the possibility of or the necessity for any sexual hankypanky. Even the initial admission sounds like a hilarious joke. It's not until Paula Plum as Stevie spontaneously but judiciously shatters a plate into their fireplace that the carnage to come --- emotionally, but physically as well, takes over.

Anouilh eloquently noted the comfort in knowing at the outset of a tragedy that nothing can mitigate total destruction, and that is true here. Despite contemporary humor and some defensive laughs at an absurd situation played absolutely honestly, Edward Albee's play documents the total collapse of an American family leaving nothing but fragments behind. And the playing, in every role, is magnificent. Love, ===Anon. ( a k a larry stark )

"The Goat or Who is Sylvia?" (18 February - 19 March)
140 Clarendon Street, BOSTON MA
1 (212)352-3101 - 1(617)585-5678

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