We expect great things from the Theatre Guild and Geoff Britain has made sure that their latest production maintains the standard. All Edward Albee’s plays demand in depth character work, and none more so that this wordy and angst-ridden piece. With some plays the director has to work harder and Britain has done all the necessary homework to get this right.
He started by casting an excellent cast. None of the roles are easy, they all require an understanding of the time Albee was writing and the human desire to hurt what we love. Julie Quick is a nasty vicious Martha with deep issues stemming from her unachieved ambitions for her mediocre husband. She is completely believable. Chris Leech as George, her husband, is the faded academic who has settled for the bargain he made in marrying the College President’s daughter. He has long abandoned trying to live up to her expectations and has his own defences for dealing with his wife’s outbursts. They play off each other beautifully and the chemistry is strong.
In the role of Nick, the new addition to the College staff, Mark Healy displays the confusion, and then disgust at Martha’s advances well. Jessica Carroll as Nick’s wife, Honey, is timid and inexperienced. They make a believable duo with him trying to steer the evening to avoid embarrassment. They are unaware that they have been invited to provide sport. This couple has secrets of its own to hide and that’s what the psychological games of their hosts are designed to expose, along with humiliation. As the gin, bourbon and brandy flow, the taunting becomes more intense and the mood more surreal.
The Little Theatre is a wonderful venue to present a play like this, which is enhanced by allowing the audience to feel close to the action. Tony Clancy’s comprehensive set works so well and the attention to detail in the props, by James Watson, aid the overall picture. This production is so good it’s exhausting, but don’t miss it if you are able to get there: gems like this are rare.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Venue: Little Theatre, University of Adelaide
Season: 12 Aug – 23 Aug
Duration: 2hr 20mins
Tickets: Adult $28, Conc. $23, Groups of 10+ (in one transaction) $23