Review_ Stray Canine’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf_ Is Riveting, Electrifying

ick to enlarge John Lamb Stephen Henley and Mara Bollini in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Stray Canine Theatre.

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is an indisputably highly effective American drama with a relentless edge. A drunken tragedy of disappointment and abuse, the play resonates with as a lot pressure at the moment as when it was first penned. The fantastically written present teems with capricious animosity and darkish feelings. Stray Canine Theatre’s masterfully unfolding nightmare captures each second and lays them naked on the stage.

George and Martha have been married for greater than 20 years and, sadly, solely liquor, anger and gamesmanship can create a spark between them anymore. He’s a long-suffering adjunct professor; she’s the unfulfilled daughter of the college president. They every had extra ambition after they married, however that hope drowned in a bottle of booze years in the past. After one other tedious get together at her father’s home, Martha invitations the good-looking new biology professor Nick and his extra reserved spouse Honey over for a nightcap together with her and George. The late night time spirals downward with George and Martha hanging and recoiling to strike once more, time and again, till everyone seems to be harm.

The extreme present requires a dedication to the rhythm of vitriol Albee so effortlessly spins. If a personality manages to efficiently parry away from a pointed jab, a well-placed verbal barb sneaks up and stings. Whereas George and Martha have loads of secrets and techniques to spill, Nick and Honey reveal flaws and ugly bits of their very own. These persons are not outright villains, however there’s an simple imply streak soaked in unforgiving sorrow in George and Martha that, the night suggests, could present a glimpse to Nick and Honey’s future.

Mara Bollini sinks her enamel and the remainder of her being into Martha, delivering a surprising, considerably unhinged efficiency that instructions consideration. She’s bitter, playful, offended and terribly determined for affection all of sudden. Stephen Peirick finds perverse enjoyment of Martha’s much-abused underachieving husband George. He exhibits his functionality to dish out simply as a lot abuse as he’s given, if with a extra insidious method. Stephen Henley’s Nick assesses the state of affairs rapidly. As quickly as he realizes there’s no straightforward escape, he jumps into the fray with an eye fixed to his profit. Claire Wenzel’s Honey isn’t as fast to catch on, however when the night time turns for the more serious, she proves she’s not the pushover she’s assumed to be.

Whereas not refined, Albee’s script affords room for interpretation that director Gary F. Bell fills with innuendo and small, revealing moments that preserve the present bristling with a continuing pressure. A big pause as George fails to gentle Martha’s cigarette, a refined refilling of a drink, a slight transfer to entrap a visitor and quite a few different tells add weight and significance to an in any other case typical drunken night time with George and Martha.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? will get a riveting and compelling manufacturing by Stray Canine Theatre that hits all the precise, if typically darkish and uncomfortable, notes. Every of the three acts builds with dramatic depth till there’s no secrets and techniques lurking at the hours of darkness and nothing left to reveal.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is open at Stray Canine Theatre (2336 Tennessee Avenue, 314-865-1995, by way of Saturday, February 25. Reveals fluctuate by day, and tickets are $25 to $30.