JOHN NATHAN

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - THEATRE The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Who’s Afraid of Vir­ginia Woolf

Theatre Royal, Hay­mar­ket Harold Pin­ter Theatre

There are two mar­ried cou­ples at war cur­rently on the Lon­don stage. Although the plays they each in­habit were writ­ten four decades apart, both were writ­ten by the late Amer­i­can drama­tist Ed­ward Al­bee, who is up there with Strind­berg and Ib­sen when it comes to de­pict­ing mar­i­tal hell.

In James Macdon­ald’s su­perbly acted pro­duc­tion of Who’s Afraid of Vir­ginia Woolf ? (1962), Imelda Staunton is mon­u­men­tal as the ter­ri­fy­ingly truth­ful Martha. Her history lec­turer hus­band Ge­orge (Con­leth Hill) has failed to ad­vance his ca­reer de­spite be­ing mar­ried to the daugh­ter of the man who runs the New Eng­land univer­sity where the cou­ple live and work. Her pun­ish­ments for his fail­ure come in the form of stab­bing hu­mil­i­a­tions de­liv­ered dur­ing the play’s real-time three hours of al­co­hol-fu­elled bruis­ing ban­ter.

Their guests Nick (Luke Treada-

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