Philly Spotlight: Theatre Exile's Who's Afraif of Virginia Woolf?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Theatre Exile Review

By Tinsel & Tine Editor - Le Anne Lindsay

lf to right: Henrik Eger, PhD, Catharine Slusar, Pearce Bunting, Jake Blouch, Emilie Krause

I was invited to the opening night of Theatre Exile's production of the classic Edward Albee play WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? directed by the theater's Founding Artistic Director Joe Canuso.

After the performance, I spoke briefly with Theatre Exile's Producing Artistic Director, Deborah Block who told me that playwright Edward Albee rarely allows the play to be remounted, that they were probably going to have to accept a no go, when Rick Gross, a loyal patron of the theater, with connections to Albee and the original production, stepped in and sealed the deal!

It's probably been more than 15 years since I've seen Elizabeth Taylor and her real life, on again, off again husband, Richard Burton sling marital mud in the movie version of the play. What always sticks in my mind is the opening line "What a Dump!"  I love the way Taylor lays on the word dump and it's such an unexpected utterance, as the couple, Martha and George, come through the door of their home.  Last year when my sister and I were looking for apartments to rent, this famed line came to mind on more than one occasion.

Catharine Slusar & Pearce Bunting Opening Night After Party

For anyone unfamiliar with the plot, Martha (Catharine Slusar) and George (Pearce Bunting) are a married couple in their 40's, George is fond of pointing out the fact that he's 6 years younger than Martha, although he admits to looking 10 years her senior. Their 20 year marriage has centered around two things: The small, but prestigious college where George is a professor in the history department and Martha is the daughter of the president of the college, a man who is never seen, yet his imposing character plays a central part in the play.  The second being a secret game the couple has played for most of their marriage, which Martha drunkenly shares with their guests to dire consequences.

lf to right: Henrik Eger, PhD, Catharine Slusar, Pearce Bunting, Jake Blouch, Emilie Krause

The guests are a new professor in "the math department" Nick ( Jake Blouch) and his slim hipped wife, whose character is nameless other than being referred to by Nick as "Honey" (Emilie Krause).  It's late, way past midnight, both Martha and George have already had more than a few drinks, yet Martha springs on George the fact that she's invited Nick and his wife over for a nightcap. Of course George is none too pleased and this sets off the first super dysfunctional marital squabble of the night. the club!-2300x150 banner"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" starts off hilarious, so many laugh out loud lines delivered with spot on timing by the small cast of four.  But as the 3 hour /3 Act play continues, things become less and less humorous and more and more malicious and emotionally draining, but never dull. It's the type of play that really shows off one's acting chops and stamina; so much dialogue and so many emotions, the tone changing from inane fodder to beratement, confessions, seductions and betrayals. All punctuated with drink after drink after drink (it really would make for a great drinking game with the audience). Throughout the play, Nick, Martha and George are soggy, but always very lucid. It's poor Honey who has to play out and out drunk, with Emilie doing a very convincing job of a normally timid type, having had a few too many.

For a number of years, the lead actress, Catharine Slusar and I actually attended the same church, but I've been absent for sometime and wasn't sure she'd remember me - she did and greeted me warmly after the performance.  I asked Catharine if she'd watched the 1966 Burton/Taylor, directed by the late Mike Nichols version before embarking on the character of Martha? She responded that she had not, deliberately so, as she didn't want to even unconsciously use any part of it in her performance, but she looks forward to seeing the movie after this run of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which ends on May 17, 2015.

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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