note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Richard Pacheco
Edward Albee has always had a unique edge to his work, from his early one act plays to his most recent ones. “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia,” which is currently playing at Second Story Theater in Warren, is no exception. This, biting, funny and disturbing play comes vividly to life in this production. It shimmers, it makes you laugh while is shocks you to the bone.
Ed Shea is Martin, a man now at a loss for words in the face of his most recent actions. Once articulate and educated, he now struggles to figure out why he came into the room. It is not the usual culprits like early Alzheimer’s or just becoming forgetful with age. Martin can’t find words for his experience or how to deal with it.
Upon winning a prestigious architectural prize, with a solid marriage and a son who loves him and a devoted longtime friend, he is on the brink of disaster of epic proportions. He has fallen in love with a goat and now everything he has built so far is at risk.
Mr. Shea is impeccable in the role of Martin, a witty articulate man brought down by the unimaginable. Everything is falling apart in front of him and he does not know where to turn or what to do. Mr. Shea is poised, in a richly delivered performance, full of angst and humor, deftly balanced.
Sharon Carpentier is his longtime loving wife Stevie, who unravels at her discovery of Martin’s behavior. It is the unthinkable come true, become substance. Ms. Carpentier is winning as a woman at odds with herself and her husband’s action. She is caught in an inescapable dilemma and watches her life fall apart in front of her, what she thought she knew vanishes in an instant with irreparable harm and emotional devastation. She ably navigates the emotional range from tender to perplexed with vivid nuance and emotional power.
Mike Zola is Ross, Martin’s longtime friend who finds him a special person, someone truly extraordinary. When Martin divulges his dark secret, Ross is shocked and devastated. It rattles him to the bone, shakes his confidence in his friend and leaves him with worries about what to do. Mr. Zola is excellent as Ross, a man in the throes of fear, shock and confusion, wanting to do the right thing, not sure what that is.
Ben Church is Billy, Martin’s grown, gay son. Billy is stunned to the core by all this. Before, he raved about his parents, their tender and best qualities, their support of him and who he is. Mr. Church is outstanding as Billy. He ably captures his emotional twists and turns as he watches helplessly as his once loved family implodes with relentless terror and dark humor.
Albee’s play is a tragedy in the classic sense of the word. Someone of great honor and prestige falls from grace through his own actions, sinking into a mire of despair and disgust. Yet the play is rich in humor as well, Albee’s biting, sassy and smart humor that slices to the bone with surgical precision.
This is a vivid performance that shocks and entertains with equal doses, not for the faint of heart and definitely for mature audiences.
Mark Peckham directs with an assured hand, firm and with poise. He keeps the pacing perfect, delving into the rich emotional depth of the play and evoking its rich humor simultaneously.
Trevor Eilliot’s set design is a delight, elegant, spacious and rich. Ron Cesario’s costumes are right on the mark.
Second Story Theater is at 28 Market Street, Warren RI. Performances are September 27 – October 21, Thursdays at 7:00PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00PM, Sundays at 3:00PM. Ticket prices range from $20 to $25. Call the box office at 401-247-4200 or go to: http://www.2ndstorytheatre.com/tixfaq.htm