Saturday, October 24, 2009

- Theater Review - The Goat Or Who Is Syvia?

This four character play is the opening selection of the Corn Stock Winter Playhouse 2009-2010 Season. It is directed by Tim Wyman and features Rebecca Frankel Clifton, Tim Drew, Paul Gordon, and Daniel Evan Breese.

OK, this may not be the type of play to which you want to take your conservative Aunt Agnes.  However, If you have an Auntie Mame, she may find it simply delightful.
This Edward Albee work is the tawdry story of a (literally) beastly affair.  In the opening scene we meet Stevie the doting wife of successful architect Martin.  Martin, just turned fifty,  is at the peak of his career, having recently been chosen to design a planned "city of the future".  His marriage to Stevie has produced a son Billy whom we learn is gay.  Martin is preparing to be interviewed by his best friend Ross, a reporter.  During this interview scene we learn that Martin, who has loved and been faithful to his wife for twenty-some years is now having a love affair with Sylvia.  We also soon learn that Sylvia is a goat.  A regular four-legged barnyard critter, and, yes, their affair is sexual.
As the play progresses, we begin to understand that while the premise is indeed based on bestiality, it is, below the surface, about many things.  It is about all levels of so-called "deviant" behavior and about the limits within a society that define what is truly taboo.
Daniel Breese turns in a commendable performance as Billy, the amusingly named gay son.  Paul Gordon was convincing as family friend Ross, and also did a good job in conducting the post-performance discussion.  Tim Drew was exceptional and truly captured the naive, confused persona of Martin, who simply cannot fathom that others do not understand how some things "simply happen" and can be totally unrelated to other realities.  The best performance of the evening, however, was turned in by Rebecca Clifton.  The character Stevie has more than a little in common with another Albee icon, Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe".  She evolves from loving devoted wife, to raging wronged woman who turns the stage into a shambles of thrown and broken objects, and ultimately into a crazed she-devil who institutes her own "final solution" in the last scene.  This is the type of meaty role that any actress would love to sink her claws into, and Ms.Clifton does so with a vengeance.
And finally, kudos to Corn Stock for selecting such an edgy play to kick-off their winter season.  While so many other local groups worry too much about what plays in Peoria and thus go increasingly mainstream, this play was a nice respite for those of us who wonder if we can bear to sit through one more performance of "Beauty and The Beast". 
Corn Stock has given us true beauty with a real beast.

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