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Theater Review: The Goat or Who is Sylvia?
NAOMI DOUDAI
10/09/2005
Edward Albee's play stars Martin, a mature achictect who falls in love with a farm animal.
The Goat or Who is Sylvia? By Edward Albee Habimah National Theater October 2 At the age of fifty, Martin, a mature and highly successful architect, has everything going for him international prizes, a loving wife, a young son whose sexual preference is respected by both parents, and an ultramodern, architectonic wonder of a home. But the opening scene of light comedy turns to dark tragedy when Martin is forced to confess to his family a forbidden involvement. He has fallen in love with and enjoys an ongoing sexual relationship with Sylvia, a goat. And so follows 90 minutes of dramatic intensity in which the ripples of laughter dissipate as tragic undercurrents emerge. Although it won the Tony Award and three Pulitzers, the play is provocative to say the least. Dealing with the themes of adultery, bestiality, incest and family love, it is as deeply perplexing as it is disturbing. Playwright Edward Albee’s treatment of themes such as obsessive love, forbidden sex, and repressed sensuality, ring strange. However Albee, with his consummate dramatic craftsmanship, makes an intense impact. He has also made a statement that explains his point of view. “‘Who Is Sylvia’ is an examination of the American scene, an attack on the substitution of artificial for old values in our society, a condemnation of complacency, cruelty and emasculation or vacuity, a stand against the fiction that everything in this slipping land of ours is peachy-keen.” With Hanan Snir’s compelling direction, Rivka Meshulach’s expressive translation, and Alexandra Nardi’s set design, the production, enforced excellent acting, makes an unforget table mark. Moni Moshonov is moving as the afflicted Martin, Alex Ansky quirky and quarrelsome as his best friend Ross, and Ido Rosenberg vulnerable but aggres sive as Billy, the teenage son. Yet it is Lil ian Barreto as Stevie, the wronged wife that dominates with a performance riveting, it marks her as one of our most gifted tragedic performers. In her pain and despair she smashes crystal and pottery, eventually effecting the virtual dismemberment of their ideal home. her orgy of recrimination she offers what must be one of Habimah’s most powerful presentations to date.
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