Thursday, March 31, 2011

Join the conversation about 'The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia?'



Have you experienced our production of Albee's The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia?

We want to hear from you about this theater experience. Here on the blog, we invite you to share what your heart is thinking and what your mind is feeling after witnessing the play. Throughout the run, our artists will respond to the things that are coming up for our audiences.

POST A COMMENT now and return to hear from other Chicagoans about their night with the play.

48 comments:

James said...

The current Remy Bumppo production, under the direction of James Bohnen, is up to the challenge of Edward Albee's play and, I hope, will draw audiences that are as well. The cast includes strong performances from Annabel Armour and Nick Sandys, whom I have seen on the Remy Bumppo stage before, but also from Michael Joseph Mitchell and Will Allan. I was impressed with the ability of the ensemble to maintain the tensions and emotions that are on display from the moment that Stevie and Martin have their opening conversation. The attention to detail of this production is noteworthy as the apparent order present at the opening is slowly turned to chaos by the tragic action of the players. This play is tragic in a classic sense and I was reminded of this by the notion of a fall -- for in this play the characters, especially Martin, have the hubris to think they have a perfect life until, literally with a glance and a look, the perfection comes undone and they realize in some tempest-tossed scenes that it may have never been there. Seemingly shocking, the reactions to Martin are among the most thought-provoking parts of the play. And that is what is so great about this production, for Albee's play is brought alive on the stage and I will not be able to stop thinking about what it all means for a very long time.

Jerre Levy said...

Great production! At the end, I was sorry the people weren't real because I wanted to wring the "friend's" neck. I've thought about the ordinary love between a person and a pet. I doubt if Stevie would have been the least upset if Martin had an adored pet dog or cat (or goat). Was she threatened by perceived sexual competition or, rather, was she simply horrified by the idea of beastiality? I've recommended this play to everybody.

Harry said...

My wife and I have been subscribers for years, with this production rating outstanding in comparison to both the track record of Remy Bumppo, as well as those of renowned Chicago theatres. The intricacies of the script must have been a monumental challenge, not to mention the emotional temper. Yet the cast not only succeeded in the challenge, but as evidenced by the response deserve standing ovations.

Remy Bumppo said...

More comments from around the theater and the web:

“Great performance. Great play. Great cast. I really enjoyed last night's show!
-Margaret Pretkelis via Facebook

“Fantastic job last night! Remy Bumppo ROCKS! We really enjoyed the performance. Break legs on the rest of your run. You should be very proud. GREAT SHOW!”
- Kevin Long via Facebook

“Edward Albee is an unusual playwright. The subject matter is most unusual. These actors are the most fabulous actors in Chicago, both Nick Sandys and Annabel Armour.”
- Betty-Ann Vishay via a Conversation Card

“See this show - shake up your world and take a giant step onward ... Albee RULES!” - Lois Hobart via Facebook

“Run on down there!!”
– K.c. Karen Hill via Facebook

“Just saw opening and WOW! Awesome show, have a great run!”
- Millie Hurley via Facebook

Nancy said...

Full disclosure - I am a member of the Remy Bumppo Board of Directors. Having said that, I have NEVER been more proud of a production of ours. It made me FEEL (and understand) so much about love and betrayal and forgiveness. Annabel and Nick NAIL the extraordinarily difficult and complex roles of Stevie and Martin. I hope everyone goes to see this play, even (maybe especially) people who are afraid.... JUST DO IT!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Shocking, jaw dropping and funny. But the message of personal catharsis was delivered.

James said...

Provocative! Recommended it to all of my friends.

James said...

Provocative! Recommended it to all of my friends.

Anonymous said...

The big question that this play faces is how to make a tragedy out of a comic conceit. The very idea of a man in love with a goat in the same way as he is with his wife - is utterly ludicrous at first blush.

Maybe Martin is just losing his mind as the first scene suggests...but we hear little of that as the plot unfolds.

The play is careful to rule out lust as the driver of this "affair" by contrasting it with the stories of the baby on the knee or the shy farm boy with pigs. This is true love and Martin, who is otherwise very articulate, is unable to tell us how a goat is able to give him the intellectual satisfaction that he clearly has with his wife.

In spite of these problems, the cast does an excellent job -

E

Bob Keenan said...

The production was first rate. It is brave to challenge the auddience
with such difficult material but that is the very reason we support RB. This play was written in 2002 when conservative fundamentalism asked the question "will beastiality follow gay marriage" I don't know what Albee was thinking when he wrote this but one thing was clear Homosexuality was mild in comparasion to Sylvia. It was very existentialistic which means I am still sorting it out

Anonymous said...

Not familiar with this play, I walked in thinking the "goat" was a metaphor. But I was later amazed to find a real goat involved in this love triangle. Given the generally permissive attitudes of modern society, I was perplexed by why bestiality was so scorned. I guess you need to have it your family to be really disgusting.

Albee is a master of family arguments. I'll remember this one for a long time.

Dean said...

Provocative, difficult to watch yet irrestible. To understand it is to flinch and squirm with remorse and rejoice with being all too human. Nick and Annabel were once again remarkable and have only reconfirmed RB's dedication to producing plays with brainy emotion. Stunning production and absolutely unforgettable performances.

A.R.T. said...

Check out my review!

http://artontheatre.blogspot.com/2011/04/goat-or-who-is-sylvia-remy-bumppo.html

Nancy said...

I already left one comment. But I saw the play a second time and was struck even more by the layers in this play. An interesting discussion after: if you were a BFF and knew something so devastating, would you tell? Surprising the differences in opinion. A powerful and heartbreaking production. I loved it and am eager to see it again

Anonymous said...

I eat it up.
One of the most powerful and intense plays ever.tomin

sharon conway said...

its was a delightful evening of theatre. well acted and well diected
as always,; Remy came through with flying colors

jack said...

This is a must see production. The relationships portrayed are so alive, you can feel the emotions especially between husband and wife, as well as their son and the long term friend. This is a show I am already recommending, it is one of very few shows I could actually see again. The most exciting theater experience I have had in a long time, and I see maybe ten a month.

Ron T said...

It was an excellent delivery of a terrible play. I thought the cast did a superb job. But, on balance, I can't recommend that others see it. I can't count on their being ready to get past the scat to deal with the human emotional issues.

MartiB said...

Moving, agonizing, production. I ached for all three of the family members. Annabel's every emotion ripped through me. Nick's deep understanding of Martin was amazing. Will really was the teen dumped into his parent's conflict adding to his confusion about life - but still able to look purely at love. Still ruminating.

Marti Berkowitz

Anonymous said...

I saw this play on Broadway with Bill Pullman and Mercedes Rhuel soon after it came out. I can honestly say that Remy Bumppo's production is every bit as good and per haps, due to the more intimate setting, even better! Amazing performances.

Anonymous said...

I saw the Goat at Goodman theater and I really hated the play. Maybe I didn't understand it. When I saw it again Saturday at RB, it was as though I was seeing an entirely different play. Maybe it was the intimate setting, or the astonishing acting by Nick and Annabel. but I was stunned by the performance. I felt as though I could actually feel and feel deeply the emotions of the characters.. I understood this time why Stevie had to kill the goat in order to save her marriage. Albee writes incredible plays, and I am a big fan of his, but I never understood or liked this play until I saw the RB production. It was one of my finest theater experiences and I recommend it to all my friends. James Bohnen gave us an unforgettable experience for his swan song. Thank you, James.

Anonymous said...

We both liked it and talked about it intermittently all weekend. Among other things, we were struck by the tendency to make grammatical and symantic distinctions, even in the heat of the utmost anger and/or passion. It was mesmerizing.

David Varnerin said...

The company's presentation was top notch. The cast all did an excellent job. I really didn't care for the play. Perhaps Remy Bumppo can do other plays by Edward Albee such as Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf which I think are just as powerful but without the bizarre plot.

stevanootz said...

I was overpowered by the intensity of the emoitions in this play. The entire cast sustained that intensity throughout the entire performance. It must be exhausting to perform with that degree of emoition every night.I have enjoyed every production in this Remy Bumppo season, but "The Goat or, Who is Sylvia" will stay with me for a long time.

Martin Baumgaertner said...

This play Edward Albee once wrote
'bout a fellow who falls for a goat
Gets his wife's goat as well
She gets madder than hell
With a knife the wife smote the goat's throat

Kristin said...

One of the joys of being a staff member of Remy Bumppo is being able to see shows as many times as I want. And I admit I am addicted to this play. It is like a drug- and I can’t get enough of it.

It reminds me of when I was a child when one of my baby teeth became loose and hung on by a thread. Remember? I loved twirling the tooth, creating that sweet sick pain; the tooth eventually did snap loose resulting in a gapping and awkward hole. I did my best to sustain that feeling and suspend the snap. I wasn’t afraid of the hole. I was told something would come along to fill it and something eventually did.

After seeing this play a dozen times, I know what’s coming and I just let it TAKE ME. Each night I suspend myself, wait for the snap, feel the hole - and it is gloriously different each night. I weep, I cringe, I laugh, I hide behind my hands blushing, nodding my head in acceptance, or shaking it in denial, coming into a new acknowledgement of myself and the questions this brilliant play asks.

One other thought I’d like to share: I am awed by our patrons’ responses, especially those who appear to be 60+ years in age. When we selected this play for the season, I was concerned that the provocative nature of the play might be “too much”. However, these particular patrons have been our most enthusiastic supporters (check out the accompanying video on this blog.)

And so the molar, -I mean moral of the story: After X number years on this earth you see some shit, - and hopefully you have forgiven a lot more. Snap. > (w)hole. Say Ahhh-men.

Remy Bumppo said...

2 more comments from our Conversation Cards at the theater:

"Head - What was Martin missing that he found in Sylvia?

Heart - Any infidelity is devastating, 'some' more than others"

"WOW - very powerful. Very well done"

Anonymous said...

I love this brilliant provocative play. The cast did a fine job and I thank you for the opportunity to see it another time.

Judy said...

The play was just beautifully done - the acting superlative. We saw the Goodman production years ago - Remy Bumppo's production was better. (Met a man we didn't know on Sunday at A Red Orchid who had seen both plays and exactly agreed with us). Of course you cannot do better than Armour and Sandys chewing the scenery - they work together beautifully.
Thank you for a terrific night in the theater.

EricP said...

I was left very unsatisfied by the play, particularly the longer I thought about it. It wasn't really the main love triangle, but some of the side issues.

Is it really believable that an architect about to win the Pritzker Prize would wave it away like it was nothing? A tiny detail, but one that fatally undermined my belief in this character.

But really I disliked pretty much everything about Billy -- how he was talked about by his father (under stress, but still), how generally annoying he is in the first part of the play, but most of all how Albee is claiming (perhaps with a straight face) that gay young men with hormones raging fall in sexual love with their father. Don't believe the slurs, please. Anyway, this aspect of the play makes me intensely dislike it, despite some of its other strengths.

So, on the whole, not a play I would recommend.

Jeff Hupert said...

I was not familiar with the play, and, early on, said to myself, "oh, no, they can't be going there". Of course, I was wrong. The production was spectacular. Mr. Sandys and Ms. Armour were great. I thought they carried the play. I have had some experience with irrational compulsions in people. Mr. Sandy's "I am acting and am completely sane except I am doing this one thing that's insane, and I know it's insane, but I don't feel like it's insane" was perfect!
I also liked the ending, which came as a shock, but was very appropriate.

Anonymous said...

We had seen this play at the Goodman several years ago. I found this production better and more enjoyable. It certainly challenges one thoughts about what friendship and love can withstand. When we had out of town guests the weekend following the evening we saw it, we took them to it and enjoyed it ourselves a second time. It was great to see it again so soon after the first viewing.

Anonymous said...

Excellent performances by all and excellent direction, but the play is a noble failure. Too much a sophomoric, shaggy dog joke and an ill match for the serious side of things Albee wanted to think about. Great belly laughs, though, and I am amazed the actors could refrain from falling about themselves.

Royal Pitchford said...

This is probably the best play and best performance I have seen in a year. Albee takes the audience up and down, and inside out -- a comedy that seamlessly becomes a tragedy. The roles of Stevie and Martin had to be extremely challenging -- and Annabel Armour and Nick Sandys were perfect. I've recommended it to several friends.

sgg said...

Incredible performance of a very difficult play...everyone was marvelous but Armour should get a Jeff award for her presentation. The post-play discussion was lively and intelligent with the performers elucidating the story and their roles. The movement from laughter (in the earlier part of the play) to horror and literal breathlessness on the part of the audience was palpable and further demonstrated the power of the performances. I have touted it to everyone I've spoken with since it is a tour de force that must be seen. Hurrah for Remy Bumppo!

Anonymous said...

The play was wonderful. We are still talking about it.
The acting was great. All of the actors played it so serious. When Nick Sandys said he was in love with the goat or that he loved the goat as much as Stevie without a smile or anything it was clear how Albee had to have it acted.

Annabel Armour was just amazing. I loved the way she articulated how the character was feeling. It was so sad having to watch her learn about the affair. When she described her horror at what her husband had done it was gut wrenching.

The son grew on me. His last hug of his dad spoke volumes for the confusion that must take place for children.

Carla said...

Albee confronts such serious family and social issues in the play which on stage bring the cast to severe emotions. I have seen this done once with sarcastic emphasis on the unimaginable and "hard to accept", creating a bit of sardonic humor and then, as in the greenhouse theatre production, which emphasized the terrible and emoted wretching, sobbing performances by the cast. Although both renditions are entertaining I prefer the more humorous approach to "this can't be my life.... It was perfect".

Beatriz Cervantes said...

This was an incredibly powerful show -- I laughed and I cried. It took me back to a time in my life when I felt exactly like Stevie and it was both painful and cathartic. This is one of the finest shows I have seen at RB (the other was Arcadia!), and one of the best shows I have seen anywhere. I cannot praise this show enough!

Anonymous said...

Most intense, gut wrentching theatre experience I have had in a long time. Annabel Armour as Stevie deserves every honor, accolade and award in existence.
SKE

Peter said...

Annabel Armour is magnificent!

Ellen Hunt said...

I am no critic, but I am a lover of literature and the theater, so take this as just the opinion of a fairly sophisticated theater-goer.

First, the play. The balance of over-the-top beyond black humor was pretty astoundingly wonderful. Made one think of Enda Walsh and some of those other out-there playwrights. But at the same time, it was quite touching, and this, I think, was due to the actors.

Nick Sandys did an incredible job making Martin sympathetic. Annabel Armour gave the best performance I have ever seen her give.

But I don't think I can improve on Chris Jones's review, so you should just read what he said. This play makes you think about things beyond its particulars--a true universality despite the true beyond reality-ness of its particulars. too bad it has closed.

Anonymous said...

We loved the play. It was very entertaining and thought provoking.The acting was superb.
We found the after play discussion a useful addition.

Anonymous said...

WOW! This was my immediate reaction to the play. I don't believe that the play calls for a lot of analysis. An act of betrayal took place, lies were told, and the act was something considered mentally disturbing by the family, and I would hope, the audience. I too, took issue with the friend, but it had more to do with how he assisted in the revelation of what happened.

I really just want to compliment Remmy Bummpo on choosing truly amazing actors to take the stage. I enjoyed every minute of their work. They were engaging, strong and bold. Ms. Armour and Mr. Sandys should be more than proud of their work. The ensemble fit so well together that I became more interested in finding out what they were going to do with the script than the script itself. I wish the company continued success.

Anonymous said...

Side note,

I am surprised at the comments that are in wonderment over the idea of beastiality being surprising. Yes, our society is permissive, but at what point do we still feel comfortable to acknowledge behavior that displays faulty thinking. I don't think that just because something is popular it represents stability or logic in thought. Taking cocaine is a thought, that doesn't make it the best choice morally, physically, or otherwise. Cheating on someone can be done, doesn't change the reprecussions of cheating.---Just my two scents.

Anonymous said...

Superb play.....thought provoking to the extreme.... a Must See!

Norm said...

So much has been said already about the play and the great performances (which I totally agree with)that it hardly seems worth adding one more viewpoint, but I will anyway. One aspect of Albee's plays that truly delights me is their musicality. The dialogue just ebbs and flows -- up and down, faster and slower, louder and softer -- just like a good piece of music. Sometimes I think Albee dreams up ludicrous situations just as an excuse to write his musical dialogue. Of course, this only works with great acting, which was evident in abundance. While the actual words are important, sometimes I like to just lean back and let his dialogue wash over me.

Anonymous said...

Re: Morning Electra:
I thought the play was far too long. Two acts would have been sufficient to get the point across.
The acting was excellent; however the ongoing misery of the female protagonist was over the top.
The basic premise of the play could have been achieved in two acts not three.
I thought the play would never end!

Anonymous said...

Electra - We agree with Hedy!