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-