BWW Review: THE GOAT OR, WHO IS SYLVIA? Provides a Rich and Powerful Opening to the 91st Season at Berkshire Theatre Group
The action takes place in the living room of what appears to be an upscale apartment home on the upper east or west side of Manhattan, or perhaps one of its many affluent suburbs. Carefully placed objets d' art suggesting travel to exotic cultural areas line the shelves along clean, tasteful walls with their carefully chosen accent coloring.
Martin is turning 50 and struggling with failing senses, forgetfulness and other unwelcomed but unavoidable gifts that come along with the milestone. Martin and his wife, Stevie, engage in a game of verbal calisthenics, banter, and repartee that clearly establishes their intellect, liberalism, and deep affection for one another as they prepare to receive guests. Martin has much to celebrate, but something is troubling him and preventing him from doing so.
Close family friend and journalist, Ross, arrives to interview Martin. Due to Martin's distraction and preoccupation, Ross asks, what is wrong with you? Martin's reply: "I don't know, maybe its love" sets in motion an exploration of life events that are simultaneously common, yet unique; simple, yet complex, comic, yet tragic.
Edward Albee's dialog is delightful, disarming, and deliberately complex. As the cast adeptly examines difficult and sensitive subject matter, often using euphemism and conversational norms, a fair amount, of laughter is generated from the audience. Some is in direct response to skillfully placed and delivered use of compliments during emotional tirades and some, me thinks, is an involuntary response (nervous laughter) expressed when some are confronted with topics that cross into the uncomfortable zone. It is then that Stevie reminds us that this high level, highbrow, and humorous review is uncomfortable, unpleasant, and unimaginable. She doesn't want to believe she wants to "rewind and not have to but since I can't, make me not believe". Jennifer Van Dyck's strong performance of Stevie is quite believable as is David Adkins' Martin. We don't question his feelings for Sylvia, nor his unwavering love, respect for, and devotion to Stevie, and their son, Billy.
THE GOAT OR, WHO IS SYLVIA? Is a quick paced juxtaposition of humor within rage, anger, and conflict all wrapped up in the trappings of civility. It forces us to look between the blurred lines between love / sex / emotions; connections / physical / emotional; normative behavior - the "supposed to" / "perversion". It suggests that we move beyond simply "getting by" and focus on "what really matters".
Edward Albee's THE GOAT OR, WHO IS SYLVIA? directed by Eric Hill and featuring David Adkins as Martin, Jennifer Van Dyck as Stevie, Josh Aaron McCabe as Ross, and Evan Silverstein as Billy with Scenic Design by Randall Parsons, Costume Design by Yoshi Tanokura, Lighting Design by Matthew E. Adelson, Sound Design by J. Hagenbuckle, Casting by Alan Filderman, and Stage Management by Peter Durgin runs through June 15 at The Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, MA.