Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review
O’Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College | 4-7 Oct
We meet George and Martha as they arrive home to their comfortable 60s town house. They are suitably oiled and brazen, already bouncing off each other with snide comments, but something is different this time around. They reveal their secrets right from the off and discuss openly the sexual motives behind their invitation to a young couple back for more drinks after a party. This is a version of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” but not as we know it. It has been deconstructed and reformed into a ‘post ironic suburban nightmare’.
This is a production by Elevator Repair Service. The US theatre company that brought us one of the most talked about Dublin Theatre Festival productions of recent years, namely “Gatz” (after The Great Gatsby). It was a mammoth 8 hour production where the book was read in full with events on stage reflecting those on the page. This production is one of their latest works and riffs off Albee’s most famous play through the prism of metatheatre. Albee’s work is now over 50 years old and perspectives on feminism and homosexuality have radically altered in the intervening years. The play responds to these and other issues.
The writer is Kate Scelsa, whose debut novel Fans of the Impossible Life was published in 2015. She has written extensively for the stage with work such as The Crack and Human Heart. She is also an actress and has performed with Elevator Repair Service in Gatz and The Sound and the Fury.
The set is a casual mix of real and fake, with a back drop depicting much of the furniture in their 60s sitting room. Coats are hung on the image of a coat stand and fall casually to the floor. Records are dropped beside the image of a record player and miraculously burst into life. It all helps create the atmosphere of the ludicrous world they are after.
The production gets off to a furious and quite hilarious start, and the arrival of the young, sexy couple, Nick and Honey Sloane, send it into overdrive. Nick has a penchant for fan fiction and its gay sub genre slash fiction and discusses his latest work where he becomes pregnant with the child of a werewolf! Obviously, the writer Scelsa is aware that her own work could easily fall under this slash fiction classification, depending on your definition. The other protagonists expand on Tennessee Williams and the role of his female characters. It is all bizarre and wickedly funny, but the problem with this type of an opening is how to keep the pace up and inevitably it does diminish. Later sections push the text in unexpected directions, completely abandoning the back drop of Albee’s play and it suffers from the lack of structure. It is worth seeing for its wild and irreverent opening but sadly they failed to maintain their initial zest.
Cast and Creative Team
Directed by John Collins
Cast includes: Lindsay Hockaday , Vin Knight, April Matthis, Annie McNamara, and Gavin Price
Set Design: Louisa Thompson
Lighting Design: Ryan Seelig
Costume Design: Kaye Voyce
Sound Design: Ben Williams
Properties Design: Amanda Villalobos