This past Wednesday we saw Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Kennedy Center, with Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin, who won a Tony for his performance in 2005. I’ve always been curious about this play, and rented the film last month, but returned it only half-watched so as not to entirely spoil the dialogue (a choice I’m glad I made, although I might rent it again after having seen the play).
The acting was—as expected—superb, so well done that we felt trapped in the midst of an awful home drama during the second and third acts. Which, as you might imagine, wasn’t the most pleasant or fun experience of a play, but it certainly was one we could appreciate. I knew going into the evening that the play is not an uplifting one, despite having a certain dark humor that someone who’s spent many years on college campuses can readily relate to. It was, in some ways, comparable to watching Bent: it’s a wonderful film (and presumably a wonderful play as well), everyone should see it, but you hardly walk away feeling ‘good’ at the end. Of course, I don’t at all mean to diminish the power of works about the Holocaust with this tangential comparison; the experience of readying yourself to approach what you know will be artistically worthwhile but personally difficult was strikingly similar.
At any rate, there’s not much more to say about the performance beyond that. It was excellent, the actors were excellent, the play is deserving of its reputation, and despite having two well known and easily recognizable film actors on the stage, their performances were so good that we completely ceased to think of them as anyone other than George and Martha.
So there you have it.