Don’t be Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Photo by Andrew Alexander.

Get your theatre fix this week in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  It is currently playing at the Gladstone Theatre and in short, is a fantastic production.

The play is classic and entertaining, but bear in mind going in that the plot is dark and twisted. There is nothing warm and fuzzy at all in this production.

The play begins with a middle-aged, unhappy, alcoholic couple arriving home from a party. The wife, Martha, WAOVFad 4x5announces she has invited a couple of fellow revellers over for a nightcap.  Nick and Honey, the young couple, arrive and at first everything begins innocently enough. But as the play moves forward we discover the psychological games Martha and George play with guests in their home.  The two bicker incessantly, Martha flirts with Nick, while his wife Honey passes out.  George seems to play along, even when the games get nasty and Martha pokes and prods at him.

Part of the game sometimes involves George and Martha discussing their son. Despite George constantly veering away from the subject, Martha brings up the man, who is supposedly celebrating his birthday the next day by coming home. But all is not as it seems, and George gets the last laugh, causing anguish for Martha.  (I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll leave it at that).

Essentially, Martha is an unsatisfied, spoiled daughter of the university president while George is an associate professor who Martha deems a failure, a fact she cruelly points out whenever she gets the chance. At the same time, their relationship does involve a complicated, dysfunctional kind of love.

Martha uses her position to entice younger professors into her bed. George and Martha’s back and forth conversation is almost repulsive to listen to, yet it’s captivating as the writing and acting are phenomenal. The dialogue is engaging and pulls you in whether you want to be there or not.

Paul Rainville is his usual fabulous acting self as George, and Rachel Eugster is a strong Martha. Supported by Grace Gordon and Cory Thibert as Honey and Nick respectively, who also offer great performances, this play is a great night out. Catch it if you can and find out more at