×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

<B>As soon as rights became available to Edward Albee's "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?" Canadian theaters jumped on the bandwagon, with Ottawa's GCTC snagging the national premiere. Montreal's Centaur Theater and Edmonton's Citadel Theater will follow close behind.</B>

With:
Martin - Stewart Arnott Ross - Dennis Fitzgerald Billy - Peter Mooney Stevie - Dixie Seatle

As soon as rights became available to Edward Albee’s “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” Canadian theaters jumped on the bandwagon, with Ottawa’s GCTC snagging the national premiere. Montreal’s Centaur Theater and Edmonton’s Citadel Theater will follow close behind.

Presenting a Tony Award-winner by one of North America’s premier playwrights is, in many ways, an obvious choice, particularly when this drama is touted as a play that stretches the limits of societal tolerance and taboos. But would “The Goat” have made it from page to stage if the author had not been Albee? Doubtful. While it has overtones of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” taken one step further, it is questionable if that step is worth taking, just to shock audiences.

On the other hand, initial Canadian reviews have been generally positive, preoccupied with the new threshhold Albee had crossed. The playwright himself has commented little about metaphors and philosophy in “The Goat,” illuminating his prodding of societal values only by saying the drama is “about four humans and a goat and it involves relationships.”

The relationships are between highly successful Martin (Stewart Arnott); his wife, Stevie (Dixie Seatle); their son, Billy (Peter Mooney); and Sylvia, Martin’s extramarital passion.

Martin has trouble accepting Billy’s homosexuality, but everyone has trouble accepting Martin’s six-month love affair (not merely physical involvement, he insists) with Sylvia.

Society accepts midlife crises and the occasional affair with a younger woman. But Sylvia is a goat, and bestiality is far more difficult to handle.

Eventually, spilling the blood of the sacrificial goat opens the door to Martin’s acceptance of his son’s sexual orientation, his own purging and perhaps the rebirth of the marriage that bestiality almost destroyed.

See “The Goat” as a plea for tolerance of homosexuality. See it as a metaphor for the need for acceptance. View it as an example of another step down the slippery slope of stripping away moral boundaries and taboos.

Like “Virginia Woolf,” “The Goat” offers brilliant interchanges, is bound to engender strong views and gives the opportunity for actors and directors to demonstrate their mettle. Also like the earlier play, it forces audiences to confront their values, leaving a bad taste behind it. But it is unlikely to affect tolerance levels, if that was indeed the underlying purpose.

All that aside, director Lorne Pardy and his cast have delivered a powerful production of this flawed drama, albeit one in which it is almost impossible to identify with the conflicted soul at its center.

Particularly touching is Mooney as Billy, who sees his comfortable family life disintegrating before his eyes almost literally, as his mother rushes around smashing ornaments and slashing pictures.

As the distraught Stevie, Seatle is passionate and powerful. Arnott is appropriately confused about his involvement and society’s lack of understanding about his feelings, as seen through the eyes of his friend Ross, played by Dennis Fitzgerald as a basic man’s man.

But even an excellent production cannot elicit empathy for the last taboo.

The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

Great Canadian Theater Company, Ottawa; 275 seats; $C34 top

Production: A GCTC presentation of a drama in one act by Edward Albee. Directed by Lorne Pardy.

Creative: Sets, costumes, Kim Nielsen; lighting, John Munro; sound, Jon Carter; production stage manager, Kevin Waghorn. Opened Oct. 26, 2004; reviewed Oct. 29. Running time: 1 HOUR, 30 MIN.

Cast: Martin - Stewart Arnott Ross - Dennis Fitzgerald Billy - Peter Mooney Stevie - Dixie Seatle

More Legit

  • Hamilton West End Production.

    'Hamilton' Panic Over Mistaken Reports of Gunfire Injures Three in San Francisco

    Three people were injured after mistaken reports of an active shooter at a San Francisco production of “Hamilton” caused attendees to flee the theater. CNN reported that a woman experienced a medical emergency — later determined to be a heart attack — during a scene in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play wherein Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is shot on [...]

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    With an HBO documentary that places strong allegations of abuse against Michael Jackson premiering in two weeks, the late singer’s estate announced Thursday that it’s canceling a scheduled Chicago test run of a jukebox musical about him. The estate and its producing partner in the musical, Columbia Live Stage, said that they’re setting their sights on going [...]

  • All About Eve review

    West End Review: Gillian Anderson and Lily James in 'All About Eve'

    To adapt a crass old adage: it’s “All About Eve,” not “All About Steve.” Stripping Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sharp-witted screenplay about a waning theater star of its period trappings, Ivo van Hove’s stage adaptation fine-tunes its feminism for our own sexist age — image-obsessed, anti-aging, the time of Time’s Up. Rather than blaming Lily James’ [...]

  • Adam Shankman

    Listen: Why Adam Shankman Directs Every Movie Like It's a Musical

    Director Adam Shankman’s latest movie, the Taraji P. Henson comedy “What Men Want,” isn’t a musical. But as one of Hollywood’s top director-choreographers of musicals and musical sequences, he approaches even non-musicals with a sense of tempo. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “When I read a script, it processes in my head like a [...]

  • Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella'

    How much can you change “Cinderella” before it is no longer “Cinderella”? In the case of choreography maestro Matthew Bourne — who, it should be said, first unveiled his spin on the classic folk tale some 22 years ago — the music is most certainly “Cinderella” (Prokofiev’s 1945 score, to be exact), but the plot [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content