The play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is situated on the campus of a small, New England university. George and Martha the main characters, open the scene coming home from a party at her father’s house.
The main characters obviously and clearly care deeply for each other but eventually turned their marriage into an unpleasant battle between two discontented, cynical enemies. The couple is expecting guests: the new math professor and his wife even though the pair steps in their home at two o’clock in the morning.
Of course, it appears that this new, junior professor, Nick, works in the biology department. Nick and his wife, Honey, steps into a brutish social situation. Martha and George try to fight and shame each other in new, creative ways in the first act, “Fun and Games.” George and Martha use Honey and Nick as pawns, as they peel away each other’s simulation and self-respect morphing their guests into an audience to witness embarrassment, into levers for creating envy, and into a means for expressing their own sides of their shared story.
These games get even distasteful in the second act, “Walpurgisnacht.” The evening resulted in a nightmare. George and Martha even besiege Honey and Nick, aiming to force them to disclose their dirty secrets and true selves. Comes the last act, “The Exorcism,” everyone’s private affair have been disclosed and purged. Honey and Nick go home, as Martha and George left trying to rebuild their fractured marriage.
The motion picture, starred by Hollywood prime actors Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, led Edward Albee’s play to be recollected as an intoxicated marital conflict. It is also noteworthy that Albee wrote the play in the early 1960s when America was slowly manifesting from the narcoleptic Eisenhower years and when a fragile Cold War peace relies on the balance of extreme fear.
Albee’s masterpiece incorporates not only history and science but even tackles religion in that Nick’s father-in-law was a traveling minister who managed to reconcile God and Mammon. We only realize this later. Most of us are hypnotized by the display of a couple tearing each other apart while our eyes glued watching the play.
Now appears the perfect time to revive Albee’s enduring masterpiece about the danger of living in a world of illusions as America is presently engaged in its own form of post-truth politics.