Review: Theatre aDHOC' Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Dolman Theatre, Newport
It’s quite a task for any company to pull off a three-act play charged with high energy and emotion, yet that’s what Theatre aDHOC are doing at the Dolman Theatre this week with their presentation of Edward Albee’s classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The story follows events that take place after a faculty party at a university where George teaches history. As George and his wife Martha return home, the tension between the pair quickly surfaces as Martha reveals she has invited Nick, a new hire in the school’s science department and his wife Honey over for the evening. As it is already the small hours of the morning and several drinks have been had, pleasantries are debunked in favour of home truths and character assassinations.
There are lots of layers to both the plot and characters of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? The play itself is an attack on the 1950s ideology of the perfect American family, while at the same time an expose of the dangerous games people can play with each other within a relationship.
Theatre aDHOC’s presentation brilliantly captures the essence of the 1950s period the story was set in, via a minimalistic set comprising front door, table, chairs, drinks bar and record player. While lighting changes the feel and pace of scenes from violent confrontations to all-out party atmosphere.
Andrew Pippin and Julia Swain give mesmerising portrayals of George and Martha, an ideal couple that look like they have fallen out of 1950s sit-com into a technicolour nightmare of hatred and anger.
Daniel Sean and Molly Pugh arrive on the scene as guests Nick and Holly and capture the essence of the perfect couple brilliantly before beginning to slowly self-destruct before our eyes as they interact and react with their hosts and unfurl dark secrets they’d rather forget.
The audience respond with laughter to the quips each character makes in the early parts of the play and indeed there are some moments that do raise a smile. But the actors are clearly honed in to where the story is going and mindful that the story is set in the small hours of the morning where drink causes emotions to run high and stark reality blurs with surrealism.
Paced to perfection Theatre aDHOC’s presentation of Whose Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? is engrossing from start to finish. There are moments of the play which are unnerving as well as challenging but that’s the power and energy of real theatre.
Don’t miss a chance to catch this classic play, performed live on stage as it was originally intended – you won’t be disappointed!
There is a further performance of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Newport’s Dolman Theatre at 7.15pm on March 8, 2019.