Bedlam Theatre’s production of Albee’s award-winning play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, invites unsuspecting audiences into the living room of Martha and George—the dynamic middle-aged duo whose marriage is falling apart—and draws them in to an intoxicating performance in three parts.
In this reinterpretation, directed by Pedro Leandro and produced by Sally Pendleton, the plot sticks closely to Albee’s original vision. The characters of Nick and Honey, played by Macleod Stephen and Jodie Mitchell, are invited (or, rather, coerced) to spend a tumultuous evening with George and Martha, performed by Henry Conklin and Caroline Elms. Nick and Honey are quickly and hopelessly entangled in the marital troubles of their hosts, however, and are dragged down into a spiral that blurs the lines between reality and illusion.
The audience finds itself laughing with them, at them, and stepping out for a much-needed breath of fresh air. It is witty; it is grotesque. Divided into three robust acts, tensions build accordingly inside the intimate atmosphere of the theatre space itself; staging and set design make use of Bedlam’s cozy feel to its advantage, creating a suffocating intensity within the confines of Martha and George’s living room.
Due to the play’s length, clever intermissions enhanced (rather than sidetracked) the performance experience; George waits on-stage after a break from Act One, making the audience feel “at home”. Simplicity of the one-room set, sound, and lighting allows the actors to take control of the performance, which they wholeheartedly do.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf returns to the stage packed with all the energy you might hope for out of a reimagined classic; it reaches the heightened performance it promises and lingers with a potency that does not disappoint.