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A CurtainUp London Review
The Goat or Who is Sylvia?
--- Lizzie Loveridge's previous review
However Jonathan Pryce takes the part of the lovelorn architect Martin with such sympathy, that I was prepared to believe that he had really fallen for a goat. At first the audience were laughing, initially unwilling to accept this relationship as anything other than a comic, ridiculous vehicle. I identified, not with the betrayed wife (as might be expected), but with the man who is the victim of his own passionate nature. I am amazed that Albee makes it work so well. The madness that Martin knows will jeopardise his marriage, his career, his family, cannot be prevented. It is as implacable as any Greek tragedy.
Pryce as Martin starts off the play as if he is going senile, getting forgetful. His wife Stevie (Kate Fahy) is all tolerance and sympathy, sensing that he is having an affair. His acting is so state of the art that I started to question whether Jonathan Pryce had been ill. As the play gathers momentum and Pryce is lightened by the enforced confession, he is able to expand on his relationship with Sylvia --as occured to me in a lighter moment, " The love that dare not bleat its name."
Kate Fahy as Stevie starts the play in control but her reaction to the news is to destroy her home and throw around its expensive art works. (I loved the note in the programme from the real artists of the pots and painting saying that they had lent their work to the Almeida. Lent? In what state will they be returned? How many of those artefacts will they have to produce for the run of the play?) Stevie's destructiveness mirrors the helplessness of her situation. This articulate woman does not resort to violence in the normal course of events. The thought of making love to her husband just after or just before he has fucked the goat is mind blowing. Fahy has an intelligent ordinariness which is brilliantly cast here.
Matthew Marsh as Ross, Martin's so-called best friend is the metaphorical representative of the tabloids, those sections of the press that take the indignant, high moral ground but sell newspapers on the strength of the sordid quality of their exposées. Ross' role is interference and malice. Martin's complete lack of guile when he is interviewed is disarming. Ross is vulgar as the stereotypical red blooded male who enthusiastically condones Martin's extra marital affair until he discovers its unacceptable aspect. Interesting line drawing by Albee here. Eddie Redmayne as Martin and Stevie's son, Billy is more than a little distressed, much of the time in tears. It is pretty clear that his problems pre-date his father's affair with the silky coated Sylvia.
There are, as Elyse Sommer found, moments of pure absurdism. I enjoyed the description of the meeting of "Animal Fuckers Anonymous" and the bizarre tales of men with sheep's wool stuck in their zipper or women and German Shepherds. To digress, I remember someone on the radio who had accessed an internet site, purporting to be about sex with animals, only to find pictures of a man having relations with an oven ready duck. However these amusing moments pale when set next to the searing tragedy of inexorable passion and inevitable loss. In the confident hands of director Anthony Page, The Goat is a must see and though we are not very far into 2004 but I am pretty sure Pryce's performance will be nominated for a best actor award.
To read the first and second cast reviews of The Goat in New York, go here.
Mendes at the Donmar
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
At This Theater
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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