Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

For George and Martha, the old adage “all’s fair in love and war” rings true. As a married couple of more than twenty-three years, they are quite versed in the buttons to push to set off each others’ alarm bells. Add in a more than modest amount of alcohol and a much younger couple, Nick and Honey, who are the discerning audience to witness their shenanigans, and you have quite the conversation starter.

To enter the boxing ring that frames their verbal discourse, come meet George and Martha, the professional antagonists well-schooled in the pros and cons of a fist fight of words. Until Saturday, October 29, the Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven will referee the minute-by-minute confrontation of Edward Albee’s masterwork “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” all three hours of it, that will leave you devastated by the vitriol that saturates the fascinating 1960’s stage created by Miguel Urbino.

Dan Donohue’s George at first appears mild-mannered but soon reveals his true colors as he parries and thrusts all the insults that Rene Augesen’s Martha flings in his face. He is a history professor and a disappointed author whose one and only novel was dismissed as inadequate by the president of the university, Martha’s esteemed father.

It’s 2 in the morning and they are just home to a place Martha refers to as a dump, after attending a party welcoming a new faculty member Nick and his wife Honey. George is not pleased that Martha has arranged this “party” but then he is rarely delighted with anything Martha says or does. When Nate Janis’ Nick and Emma Pfitzer Price’s Honey arrive, the alcohol and conversation flow freely, too freely.

Soon it’s an Abbott and Costello routine gone mad as the older couple bray and hiss insults, spilling secrets and playing nasty word games, much to the confusion of the younger folk. The violence escalates as the humiliations pile up until words are replaced by physical attacks. It’s like witnessing a traffic accident that appalls you but you cannot look away. James Bundy directs this absorbing drama, one that hasn’t been staged in Connecticut in three decades.

For tickets ($15-65), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at yalerep.org. Performances are Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday. Masks are required.

Prepare yourself, with boxing gloves, so you can return any of the flying insults that may mistakenly land in the audience as you sit front and center to the often funny and unfair fight and eventual and temporary cease fire that ignites before your disbelieving eyes.