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BWW Review: WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, The Tobacco Factory There is something perversely voyeuristic about this play, watching the self-destruction of these four individuals, and in particular the complex and antagonistic relationships.

Pooky Quesnel and Mark Meadows, playing Martha and George, work together well: they have an incredible rapport, while delivering bitter and acerbic insults. They move around one other, almost in a dance, fuelled by the words they are firing off. Though not cruel, they taunt each other beautifully with wit and intelligent barbs.

Quesnel and Meadows both have exquisite elocution and dialect to deliver Edward Albee's incredible script, which has been adapted many times since its first production in 1962. This production is directed for the Tobacco Factory by David Mercatali.

The arrival of the younger couple to the home of Martha and George provides the catalyst for the events of the night. Played by Joseph Tweedale and Francesca Henry, their names are never spoken throughout the play, and this adds to the feeling that they are of little consequence to Martha and George - merely light entertainment, and an opportunity to play to an audience with their constant back and forth.

Henry, who plays Honey as a quiet and naïve character, does a brilliant job of portraying the desperate way that this young woman wants to feel included in a highly intellectual conversation. In particular, though, what is impressive is the very convincing manner in which her Honey gets steadily more inebriated throughout, to the point that I suspect many wondered whether the frequently visited prop bar might contain real brandy after all.

Throughout the play, which is wickedly funny, there are also moments of extreme tension, well supported here through the use of sound (Dinah Mullen) and lighting (Chris Swain). A low noise is heard in these moments - not music - and barely noticeable, but enough to add to the simmering environment very effectively.

This is a long play, over three hours, with two short pauses. But it doesn't feel it: the performers are engaging and captivating, and by the climactic end of the show, there is a feeling that we have intruded on a particularly damaging evening of their lives, but a tour de force to watch. A magnificent production of this classic complex masterpiece.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is showing at the Tobacco Factory Theatres until 21 March

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