The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?
By Edward Albee“One must let the play happen to one; one must let the mind loose to respond as it will, to receive impressions, to sense rather than know, to gather rather than immediately understand.” - Edward Albee
The Remy Bumppo Theatre Company calls itself "Think Theater" and I can think of no better way for it to demonstrate the resolve that suggests than with their current production of The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? by Edward Albee. There is no playwright who has been better at challenging his audiences to do just that - think - about his plays and the nature of theater than Edward Albee over the past fifty years. Ever since The Zoo Story in the early sixties he has been stretching the bounds of theater; all the while both honoring tradition and reinventing it. Nowhere is that better seen than in this play.
The current Remy Bumppo production, under the direction of James Bohnen, is up to the challenge and, I hope, will draw audiences that are as well. The cast includes strong performances from Annabel Armour and Nick Sandys, whom I have seen on the Remy Bumppo stage before, but also from Michael Joseph Mitchell and Will Allan. I was impressed with the ability of the ensemble to maintain the tensions and emotions that are on display from the moment that Stevie and Martin have their opening conversation. The attention to detail of this production is noteworthy as the apparent order present at the opening is slowly turned to chaos by the tragic action of the players. This play is tragic in a classic sense and I was reminded of this by the notion of a fall -- for in this play the characters, especially Martin, have the hubris to think they have a perfect life until, literally with a glance and a look, the perfection comes undone and they realize in some tempest-tossed scenes that it may have never been there. Seemingly shocking, the reactions to Martin are among the most thought-provoking parts of the play. And that is what is so great about this production, for Albee's play is brought alive on the stage and I will not be able to stop thinking about what it all means for a very long time.