Review: THE GOAT OR WHO IS SYLVIA? at Interrobang Theatre Project

By: Sep. 14, 2018

Things aren't always as they seem. Even the most picture perfect family has their issues. And sometimes those issues are beyond comprehension. The revelation of secrets can impact dynamics, emotions, and perceptions. Edward Albee's Tony Award-winning, THE GOAT, OR WHO IS SYLVIA?, currently in production by Interrobang Theatre Project, focuses on the ramifications of such revelations.Review: THE GOAT OR WHO IS SYLVIA? at Interrobang Theatre Project

Albee is a master of leaving audiences with questions, but in doing so, promoting conversation and internal debate. This piece is certainly no exception. In fact, with each explanation, the audience is faced with more to question. It's what keeps this complex 90-minute tale fascinating at every turn.

As Martin (Tom Jansson) turns 50, he has just received another award in his accomplished architecture career. We meet him in his impeccable suburban home as he and his wife, Stevie (Elana Elyce), engage in witty banter about his special day and recent achievements. Martin is then interviewed about his success by his friend, Ross (Armando Reyes), a television talk show host. As they break down the details of his achievements, they wander into the territory of relationships - specifically marriage and affairs. We learn that Martin has a regular companion, with whom he is not only sexually involved but has also fallen for as well. Her name is Sylvia. And she is a goat.

Ross shares his complete outrage with Martin and soon shares Martin's secret with Stevie. What follows is Stevie's confrontation with Martin and their son Billy's (Ryan Liddell) reaction to the news. Billy is baffled that his own father, who struggles with his son's homosexuality, could be living this life. The layers are peeled away as Stevie tries to comprehend this new reality.Review: THE GOAT OR WHO IS SYLVIA? at Interrobang Theatre Project

Albee lets us make of it what we will, but uses an absurd situation to have us look at our own hypocrisy. He does a deep dive into the complexities of sexuality, love, and lust. Stevie is outraged that the man who finds her appealing, feels the same way about a four-legged creature. As she tears the living room apart, and as Billy grapples with his confused feelings, we are witness to the pain that comes from acting on impulse out of desire.

Jansson's portrayal of Martin is steady and earnest. He's best when painting the picture of meeting Sylvia and when he attempts to use humor to shift difficult conversations. Elyce handles the challenging role of Stevie with sincere conviction and never falters even when the harshest daggers are flung her way. She expertly portrays an enviable strength and painful heartache. As Billy, Liddell finely conveys the angst of a privileged teen who is falling out of societal norms and is facing a world turned upside down. Reyes shares some nice moments with Jansson as the first confidant to be privy to crucial plot points.

Though a few early moments lack a bit of steam, the pacing picks up as the bombshell is dropped and then it never fades. Director James Yost uses every inch of The Rivendell stage giving us captivating pictures of this family in turmoil. Yost wisely has his actors finding their corners like boxers in a prize fight, then coming out when the bell rings to take down their opponent.

A gorgeous set by Kerry Lee Chipman perfectly aligns with the initial image we have of this family. Melanie Hatch needs to be given credit for her magnificent property design and what must be incredibly challenging upkeep due to Stevie's wrath.

Like Albee himself, Interrobang Theatre Project does not shy away from taking on challenging concepts. This show comes in a long line of intriguing choices and well-executed productions that closely examine our humanity. Interrobang is the perfect storefront company to tackle this story and has done so with impressive expertise.


THE GOAT, OR WHO IS SYLVIA? runs through October 6 at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago. Single tickets and season passes are currently available at or by calling (312) 219-4140. The show runs 90 minutes with no intermission.


Review: AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical at Kokandy Productions Photo
Review: AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical at Kokandy Productions

Kokandy Productions’ Chicago premiere of AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical is a delectable, campy romp. Producing Artistic Director Derek Van Barham’s production is a mainly bloodless vision for the bloody tale of serial killer finance bro Patrick Bateman — and it’s an approach that works incredibly well for the material. I know that AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical was short-lived on Broadway and that that production was a literal bloodbath. The fact that Kokandy’s production substitutes red confetti for stage blood is a microcosm of how well this scrappy interpretation of the musical works: By making the show more camp, less horror story, audiences are then free to indulge in the satire and fun.

The Annoyance Theatre to Present THE EVIL THAT MEN DO Beginning in October Photo
The Annoyance Theatre to Present THE EVIL THAT MEN DO Beginning in October

The Evil that Men Do brings together the best talent at the Annoyance to create a truly unforgettable theatrical experience. Get ticket and event information here!

WHO CHISELED THAT? by Merit Kahn Begins US Tour in Chicago Photo
WHO CHISELED THAT? by Merit Kahn Begins US Tour in Chicago

'Who Chiseled That?' by Merit Kahn will begin performances in Chicago this October ahead of a US tour.

Review: THE LEHMAN TRILOGY at TimeLine Theatre Company/Broadway In Chicago Photo
Review: THE LEHMAN TRILOGY at TimeLine Theatre Company/Broadway In Chicago

THE LEHMAN TRILOGY is a sweeping play that covers 164 years of history as it weaves together fact and fiction to chart the rise and fall of Lehman Brothers. The play’s title mirrors the ambition of the piece: It has a run-time of over three hours that unfolds in three acts — all performed by only three actors. The trilogy in the title is thus a literal reflection of the play’s structure and the roles, but it’s also suggestive of the piece’s mythical nature. Likewise, playwright Stefano Massani’s script (adapted by Ben Power) has a rhythmic storytelling style; the actors often narrate their own stories and actions in a chamber theater type of presentation. Although the run time is long, the fact that THE LEHMAN TRILOGY covers so much ground means it remains interesting throughout — although I found I was ultimately more intellectually than emotionally stimulated.

From This Author - Patrick Rybarczyk

Patrick Rybarczyk is a Jeff and After Dark Award-winning Chicago based actor. Patrick has worked both on stage and administratively for nearly 25 years with several of Chicago’s leading theatre ... Patrick Rybarczyk">(read more about this author)


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