03 April 2011

Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf at St. Pete's American Stage

Richard B. Watson, Betty-Jane Parks, Matthew Stephen Huffman and Christine Decker in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf at St. Pete's American Stage

Last night, some friends and I went to see the American Stage Theater Company's production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? Wow, what a night and what a play.

Subtle is not something that describes Who's Afraid in any way and if you've ever seen the 1966 movie you know what I'm talking about. What made it onto the screen in 1966 was the scaled back version of this story though. The stage version is as a raw as it is nuanced and the incredible cast at the American Stage kept the play's three plus hours from devolving into a non-stop screaming match.

There's a neediness and something resembling love that undergirds George and Martha's dysfunction and watching Christine Decker and Richard B. Watson explore that onstage captivates as it repulses.

Christine Decker as Martha and Richard B. Watson as George on location somewhere in St. Pete. These two add a horrifying twist to the idea of a power couple.

Nick and Honey were played by Matthew Stephen Huffman and Betty-Jane Parks and their naivete and unspoken dissatisfaction adds the perfect fuel to George and Martha's fully realized volatility.

Bravos go out to the actors and the technical cast. The set and costumes were perfect and the American Stage's new theater was the perfect venue for this production.

If you are in the Tampa/ St. Pete metro area, go see this play. It's running through April 23rd and there are still seats available. You can buy tickets through their website directly and while you're on that site, check out the rest of their season this year and look over the line-up for next season.

Florida has a reputation as a cultural wasteland and in most cases that's not very far from the truth. But there is culture here and I'm fortunate to live in a city where I'm surrounded by it. The American Stage is this area's oldest Equity theater and that it's thriving in a time when arts organizations everywhere are slowly dying is as much a testament to the management of the the theater as it is a statement about the people of St. Pete.

Local arts organizations are an incredibly important part of what makes a place unique and worth living in. If you're not in my area and you can't support The American Stage, The St. Pete Opera, The Florida Orchestra, our many smaller theaters, dance companies and our amazing museums, your community has assets similar to ours and they need your support and patronage now more than ever. Make it a point to go see a play or go see a symphony or go to an art museum. Unpatronized arts groups, organizations and facilities go away and that's nothing short of tragic.

Here's the American Stage's video excerpt from their production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?


  1. I studied that play for my end of high school exams, and found it very difficult (but what does a 17yo understand of relationships like those?). It would be an easy play to wreck with a bad cast, but equally, a triumph with a fantastic cast. Glad you had the fantastic experience!

  2. You studied that in high school? What teenager could grasp what's going on in that play? I studied it in college and most of it sailed over my head.

    You're right, a bad cast wouldn't do proper service to Albee's work. We're lucky to have such a great theater company right down the street.


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