Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – reviews of 'superb' revival

Jun 30, 2014

Clare Higgins thrills in Edward Albee's great America drama about a desperate marriage

Nobby Clark
What you need to know

A revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has opened at Theatre Royal, Bath. Albee's 1962 drama is considered one of the great post-war American plays, and was adapted into an Oscar-winning 1966 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. 

The story takes place during the course of one night when George, a college professor, and his wife, Martha, invite a young faculty couple for drinks. As the alcohol flows, the guests are forced to watch and participate in George and Martha's cruel game-playing rituals.

Stars Tim Pigott-Smith as George and Clare Higgins as Martha. Runs until 5 July.

What the critics like

Adrian Noble's superb new production has "thrilling performances from Clare Higgins and Tim Pigott-Smith", says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. This picture of a desperate marriage is also wonderfully funny and at the end of the marathon slugfest one staggers out of the theatre feeling both bruised and elated.

"Tim Pigott-Smith and Clare Higgins land viciously funny linguistic blows on each other with a shocking, deadly aplomb in Adrian Noble's fine revival," says Paul Taylor in the Independent. Higgins is thrilling as Martha in "a raucous, no-holds-barred performance" in contrast to Pigott-Smith's downtrodden, fascinatingly tricky George.

Adrian Noble's fine production of one of the great American dramas is "played at full hilt" and must be destined for the West End, says Kris Hallet on What's On Stage. Higgins, one of our greatest actresses, has found a part to match alongside an impressive Piggott-Smith who takes us from hen pecked sadsack to detached, dead-eyed avenger.

What they don't like

"Tim Pigott-Smith can't always compete" with Higgins' commanding performance, but then neither can George, says Dominic Maxwell in The Times. And while the two actors are old for the roles, requiring a few tweaks to the script, they pull it and there is never a dull moment.

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