Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Written by Edward Albee, Directed by Gemma Bodinetz
Liverpool Playhouse, 1st-23rd April 2005 (not Sundays), £5-£18

Reviewed by Adam Ford

The first performances of this play caused quite a stir in 1962. The world seemed to be on the brink of nuclear annihilation, so theatregoers wanted to relax and forget their troubles, but instead they were put through the emotional wringer by this tale of humiliation and betrayal.

Frustrated History professor George (Ian Bartholomew) and his frustrated wife Martha (Denise Black) have been married for twenty years, but their relationship seems to have been anything but peaceful. When they invite up-and-coming young academic Nick (Nick Court) and his child-like wife Honey (Kaye Wragg) back for some after-party drinks, the older couple engage in brutal and savage mind games that blur the line between reality and fantasy, truth and lies, love and hate.

This is another excellent production by Everyman and Playhouse Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz. Despite the performance clocking at over three hours, the cast manage to keep up the frenzied pace throughout. The American dream has long since died, so those who remember this play or its film version from way back when may find it slightly dated. If you’re new to the antics of the not-so-dynamic duo, the shock value of the humiliation and betrayals has been stripped away by endlessly rerun talk shows and reality TV. But either way, this is a classy version of a classic play.