5pound theatre present their first play for the 2012 season: The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, an award winning play by Edward Albee.
This is perhaps a lesser known Albee work but is unmistakably Albee. Perhaps best described as Theatre Of The Absurd American Style, Albee continues to challenge the barriers of traditional thinking when he, in this work, places his protagonist in the position of falling in love with a….well, I can't spoil it right now but needless to say it's a shocker!
Albee explores and prods in his usual unrelenting style and offers a solid piece of challenging and confronting theatre. "This is a quirky and at times confronting piece that delves full tilt into discovering the true nature of love," comments Jason Cavanagh, actor and Co-artistic Director of 5pound theatre. "It is, at heart a story about a man who has an affair, it’s really that simple… except of course it’s not. Through changing and exaggerating certain details of a very familiar story in true absurdist form it draws focus and challenges the audience to question their own morality."
Albee does, of course, use the play as a social commentary on particular political ideologies as well as questioning our own morality. Cavanagh raises the questions behind the play:" Why does society require us to act certain ways, to hold certain beliefs, and exclude certain behaviors? Do we comply willingly? Or do we comply simply because we are worried about how our actions will be perceived by the people who are watching. These are all difficult questions brought to the floor by Albee but with a light touch, a tongue in cheek and a very entertaining play."
The play is brazen but Albee makes no apologies for his style or commentary. In a similar vein to is masterpiece, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, Albee uses sometimes savage language games to further enhance the action and dramatic life of his characters. He and his plays are Award winners yet his subject matter remains controversial to some. But, therein lies their attraction, states Cavanagh: "I was fascinated by the idea of a show that contains themes of homosexuality, infidelity, rape, incest, paedophilia and bestiality but has nonetheless been opened on Broadway and has since played at some of the major theatres around the world including right here at the MTC. Not to mention the awards and accolades it has received along the way. Surely the testament of a great writer, to make topics like those not only palatable for a mainstream audience, but also really quite funny. The first time I saw this piece read I was gasping out loud in parts… Just when you think it can’t get any more extreme, something else happens to make you fall off your chair. It’s a disarmingly funny and thought provoking piece of theatre."
Cavanagh plays the somewhat irreverent Martin whose inexplicable decisions have far-reaching consequences. Says Cavanagh of his journey: "Playing Martin is a difficult proposition. This is a man who has clearly taken a bad turn somewhere in his life and finds himself with a very unlikely bed partner – who (or rather whom) he loves wholly. Albee is very clear that this is not a metaphor or symbol but a real living breathing animal. I have always enjoyed playing complex characters, and Martin certainly is that. I’ve had to imagine myself doing some very unpleasant things, rise above that, stand up tall as Martin and say, "I’m in love with a quadruped!". Loud and proud. It’s not clear cut venality, Martin isn’t a bad man, but it’s murky and gritty and human, and that makes it all the harder to swallow. Because it’s real. In a very ridiculous kind of way."
In amongst all of the angst the play is bitingly funny and, in fact, begins as a classical marital comedy until, of course, things go awry and Albee uses the Theatre of the Absurd to his benefit to cross over to areas which are completely unfamiliar to us in our everyday lives. It would seem a similar experimental strain has befallen 5pound theatre who will be staging the production in the middle of a Collingwood underground car park. We are guaranteed the cold will not be a factor, however, because blankets will be provided!
Cavanagh's hope is that the audience leaves thoroughly entertained after a well acted, directed, conceived and written show. "If you’ve seen this play before then I doubt you really need convincing, if you haven’t then you pretty much have to go. So I don’t think any further words from me is needed."
The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? plays from May 29 – 9 June