Review Roundup: Zachary Quinto, Calista Flockhart, Graham Phillips & Aimee Carrero in Geffen Playhouse's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?

Now on stage through May 29th.

A BEAUTIFUL NOISE, DANCIN', NEW YORK, NEW YORK and More Win 2023 Chita Rivera AwardsGeffen Playhouse is presentiing Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, directed by Gordon Greenberg (Guys and Dolls, Irving Berlin's Holiday). Performances for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? began Tuesday, April 19 in the Gil Cates Theater at Geffen Playhouse.

The cast includes Aimee Carrero (The Portuguese Kid, What Rhymes with America) as Honey, Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal, Neil LaBute's bash) as Martha, Graham Phillips (13: The Musical, The Good Wife) as Nick and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek franchise, The Boys in the Band) as George.

George and Martha, the American theater's most notoriously dysfunctional couple, have invited the young and naive Nick and Honey over for drinks. What begins as harmless patter escalates to outright marital warfare, with the provincial newcomers caught in the crossfire. Celebrate the 60th anniversary of the hilarious and harrowing Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, arguably Edward Albee's most famous and most vicious masterpiece.

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What did the critics have to say?

Charles McNulty, LA Times: Greenberg's production doesn't achieve the theatrical thunder of Anthony Page's 2005 revival with Bill Irwin and Kathleen Turner that came to the Ahmanson Theatre or the dramatic incisiveness of Pam MacKinnon's 2012 Broadway revival with Tracy Letts (the finest George I've ever seen) and Amy Morton. But despite not being a natural stage match, Quinto and Flockhart expose something infinitely fragile in Albee's shatterproof play.

Maggie Yates, Independent: The actors are so engrossed in their roles as warring lovers that one expects violence to break out at any moment. They keep the tension at its peak for the entirety of their performances. It's an exceedingly well-written play, fast and witty and piercingly cruel. By the time the young couple can extract themselves from the situation, it's been three hours of this circus. It becomes clear that while George and Martha have wild contempt for each other, there's love there as well. They have a partnership that, while complicated and disquieting, seems to work for them since both seem to enjoy their twisted emotional competitions - especially when they have an audience.

Peter Debruge, Variety: At first, this latest pairing doesn't seem likely to yield any fresh revelations to such a familiar play, only to surprise as the duo offer their own take on these two characters - who share the names of America's first first couple, the Washingtons. Quinto makes for a solid, relatively stolid George. Though described in the dialogue as weighing 108 pounds, Martha is nearly always played by a larger, more physically dominant performer, a "maneater." Brittle looking but titanium strong, Flockhart's not the same physical type at all, even if there's never a moment's doubt when she's on stage that this formidable woman could devour any of her co-stars. With an Aqua Net-stiff, late-career-Marilyn 'do and impossible-to-pinpoint enhancements to her face, her Martha reads as a woman who still wants to be desired, which adds another dimension to the dynamic.

Harker Jones, BroadwayWorld: Flockhart and Quinto are pitch perfect, casting their roles with just the right amount of pathos to keep them from drifting into caricature territory. They're just this side of becoming animals. They shout, they bray, they accuse, they skewer, they rationalize, they internalize, they compartmentalize and always remain achingly human through their aching loneliness.

Kathy Leonardo, LA Art Party: The play is actually quite funny amidst the explosive dialogue and emotional nightmare. The amount of talent on that stage was apparent by the tension and suspense that filled the theatre. Director Gordon Greenberg kept the play moving with an ebb and flow of a rollercoaster. The scenic designer, Wilson Chin created a simple yet cluttered home, which added to the chaos of the evening. Kudos to the lighting designer, Elizabeth Harper, and costume designer Alejo Vietti.

V Cate, Stage Raw: Widespread patience for lengthy play runtimes may be waning, but these three hours zoom along. Director Gordon Greenberg keeps the momentum chugging, until the characters themselves run out of steam - not just physically exhausted from drinking and fighting until dawn, but emotionally exhausted from over two decades of being worn down by a toxic marriage. The blocking is smart, and the cultivated performances unerringly riveting.

Krish Aditya, Daily Bruin: Even so, the reason to return to The Geffen Playhouse's production must be Flockhart, whose snarling, cackling and weeping Martha fuels the play's churning engine. While Quinto certainly presents a menacing George - one believably wonders in later acts if he'll return to the stage with a gun loaded with bullets instead of an umbrella - Flockhart's poison tongue and plaintive tears fully crystallize the terror of the marriage.

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