Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

(left to right) Ensemble members Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Directed by Pam MacKinnon. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

We’ve all had those nights we don’t want to end, when the party moves down the street into the afterhours, only to sputter out around dawn when guests blearily enter back into reality. Sometimes those parties are wildly beautiful, other times they are the stuff of nightmares. Friendships implode, relationships fracture – the whole evening becomes a nuclear bomb which leaves you shaking at the end, repeating to the empty space, “What the hell just happened?”

You could say I’m familiar with those kinds of nights. Which is why I spent most of the three hours at George and Martha’s afterhours alternately laughing and crying in recognition of the ultimate power struggle party. Since its Broadway premiere in 1962, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf has continued to shatter audiences with the ugly truth – we’re all capable of total war in relationships. Some of us may even relish it.

Presented by Chicago’s brilliant Steppenwolf Theatre Company as part of Arena Stage’s Edward Albee Festival, this production is simply not to be missed. There’s a complete dedication to the realism of Albee’s script that makes everything passionately alive, from Todd Rosenthal’s tired living room set, crowded with books and booze, to the acting master class delivered by Tracy Letts and Amy Morton. That dedication sucks the audience in and makes us all culpable. You’ll feel dirty afterwards, like a host surveying the piles of empty bottles and broken glass.

Don’t let that stop you from joining this party. From “Hump the Hostess” to “Get the Guests,” it may be a night in a Machiavellian mine field, but it’s also hilarious.  Continue reading