Presented by Butterfly Theatre
Reviewed 23January 2020
No one would attempt this classic without a strong cast, and this is a very strong cast. Angela Short and Matthew Chapman have directed a great production true to the original text. Albee’s astute psychological insight into the façade of relationships is as relevant today as when it was written. The biting verbal sparing of the couples has lost none of its sting. The directors have chosen to present this production as essentially theatre in the round, making George and Martha’s living room into a boxing ring, putting the audience close into the action. This works but made a few audience members uneasy.
Brant Eustice is a superb George, jaded, spiteful and alcoholic. He is well matched with Bronwyn Ruciak as Martha, his domineering, manipulative harridan of a wife. Both bring all their considerable skill to this match, goading, cajoling and embarrassing each other. George is a senior university lecturer and he and Martha are hosting a new staff member and his wife to after party drinks at two in the morning; lambs to the slaughter. The visitors, Nick and Honey, are played by Robert Bell and Madeleine Herd, both no strangers to challenging roles. Bell is perfect as the up-and-coming new comer ripe for ridicule and seduction. Herd plays the youthful, less than bright innocent with stunning proficiency.
This play is a marathon for the cast who give us believable characters, portray drunks realistically and deliver Albee’s clever but wordy script with authentic accents. Stephen Dean’s lighting enhances the intimate feeling of the set and the occasionally music by Phil Short is unobtrusive. In all a well-presented production which is a little long, but Albee made it that way and serious theatre goers will stay the distance.
This excellent production has a short season so book now.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Venue: Holden Street Theatres
Season: 22-26 Jan 2020
Duration: 3.5 hr
Tickets: $22 – $25