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Steppenwolf Theatre Company Presents Albee’s "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" at the Booth Theatre
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Steppenwolf Theatre Company Presents Albee’s "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" at the Booth Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel
Susan Quint Gallin, Mary Lu Roffe
et al.


Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s

Edward Albee’s
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
(Show Website)
By Jon Robin Baitz

Starring Tracy Letts and Amy Morton

Carrie Coon and Madison Dirks

At the
Booth Theatre
222 West 45th Street

Directed by Pam McKinnon

Scenic Design: Todd Rosenthal
Costumes: Nan Cibula-Jenkins
Lighting: Allen Lee Hughes
Sound: Rob Milburn & Michael Bodeen
Production Stage Manager: Malcolm Ewen
Casting: Erica Daniels, CSA
Technical Supervision: Hudson Theatrical Associates
Press Representative: Irene Gandy/Alana Karpoff
General Manager: Richards/Climan, Inc.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 23, 2012

I remember vividly watching Burton and Taylor in the film version of Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Taylor, as Martha, was never together, never beautiful, but rather a lioness of a woman, in drunken heat and sadistic obsession. This was a blood-thirsty animal, who, for all her ranting and raunchiness was inextricably magnetized to Burton, as George. Taylor’s hair was prepared to show graying, as she was in her thirties at the time. For Burton’s part, his paunch was loose and his insatiable appetite for Martha, in spite of their sadomasochistic fantasies and games, was palpable.

Tonight’s George and Martha, Tracy Letts and Amy Morton, stored their heat in their heads. They were mutual predators, clawing at one another’s very souls, Martha at George’s frozen academic career and lowly subservience to her father, who heads the small New England college, and George at Martha’s barrenness and implied physical deterioration. Not only did Mr. Letts and Ms. Morton seem lacking in heightened chemical symbiosis, but each seemed like a contemporary suburban bourgeois. In fact, the setting is 1962, and Ms. Morton sported tri-toned hair highlighting so popular today, rather than the unkempt locks of Marthas from the past. She was never a mess. Mr. Letts, as well, seemed more gym fit than Georges from the past. He, too, was never a mess. Todd Rosenthal’s living room design, however, did have empty liquor bottles, books strewn about, worn upholstery, and fading beams.

As the guests, who fell prey to George and Martha’s “Get the Guest” cruel games, Madison Dirks as Nick had the “pretty boy” demeanor that initially drew Martha in, but Mr. Dirks, like Mr. Letts, never seemed primed for pouncing, although there was a rumble here and there. Carrie Coon as Honey, who had blown up her stomach for a wedding, before the balloon disappeared, played the requisite, vulnerable waif, who spends most of the play in and out of incoherent illness. Pam MacKinnon has directed for acute tension that bubbles below the surface, but below the surface of the brain, not the surface of the gut. In Act II, when Nick turns into Houseboy, Martha remains cunning and deft, never the frustrated shrew. Plus, her hair remains well coifed. Nan Cibula-Jenkins’ costumes evoked retro Bloomingdale’s. Kudos to Edward Albee.

Madison Dirks and Carrie Coon
in Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Courtesy of Michael Brosilow

Amy Morton and Tracy Letts
in Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Courtesy of Michael Brosilow

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at