BWW Preview: Stark Naked Theatre Company Mounts Edward Albee's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?

Kim Tobin-Lehl and Philip Lehl take on Martha and George
Photo by Jeff McMorrough/Bara Photography, courtesy of
Stark Naked Theatre Company

Stark Naked Theatre Company stages luminary playwright Edward Albee's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, the explosive, heart pounding drama about marital discord, dysfunction and delusion between George, a university professor, and his wife Martha, as well as their unwitting guests, a younger couple Nick and Honey.

"Albee has truly constructed a masterpiece of the psychological and emotional demise in a relationship when it is held up to a set of standards imposed by a society that demands individuals to be able to deliver exceptionally high levels of achievement, perfect family units and the right model of decorum and personality to be finally judged as successful and worthy," says Kim Tobin-Lehl of Stark Naked Theatre Company.

Tobin-Lehl and her husband, Philip Tobin-Lehl, are the co- Executive Directors of Stark Naked Theatre. The husband and wife team also inhabit the play's principal roles, George and Martha. Houston favorites Matt Hune and Teresa Zimmerman are Nick and Honey.

Over the course of the night, the two couples drink and fight more than humanly possible. It's a challenge for the actors. But, paradoxically, Kim and Phillip Tobin-Lehl believe their happy and loving marriage gives them a leg up.

George and Martha are very much in love no matter how increasingly cutting they become in their hours-long verbal war of attrition. "[W]e always hurt the ones we love the most because we believe [and] trust they won't leave us," she says.

The actors find the play supports their theory. They cite Martha, who makes increasingly brazen sexual overtures to Nick throughout the play in an attempt to embarrass and enrage her cuckold husband only to finally reveal to her would-be boy toy that "there's only been one man in my whole life who's ever made me happy... George, my husband."

Moreover, the actress adds, what appears to be George's most vicious moment of the night is an attempt to save his relationship with his wife. "[It] is the final act in a desperate attempt to save their relationship and bring Martha back from a place of destruction and illusion... [I]f he does not risk everything, he will lose her for good." She further explains, "You can't do that if you don't love completely. It is the ultimate act of courage."

As caustic as George and Martha's relationship seems, the play is ultimately optimistic in its own way. "At the end of the play [George and Martha] have a chance to start from somewhere new," observes Tobin-Lehl. "Whether or not that will happen? Well, only George and Martha can know that."

WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? by Edward Albee. Preview is March 3 at 7:30 p.m. Performances are March 4 through 26. 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 3 p.m. on Sundays. Spring Street Studios, Studio 101, 1824 Spring St. $15-$49. (Pay what you can Monday, March 21. 7:30 p.m.) For more information, please call 832-866-6514 or visit

The play is three acts, running approximately 3 hours with two 10-minute intermissions.

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From This Author Katricia Lang