Edward Albee’s “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it certainly will generate conversation.
River City Repertory Theatre opened the play Wednesday evening at East Bank Theatre for a run through Sunday. It concerns a family being torn apart because the husband and father has fallen in love with a goat.
Martin, a middle-aged architect, seems to be adrift and getting out of touch with the immediate world around him. The distraction obviously is his affair with a goat he calls Sylvia. He tells his best friend Ross about what has happened. Quite naturally Ross is amazed and aghast. An argument erupts and Martin tells Ross to leave his home. Later, Ross, out of his sense of duty, sends a letter to Stevie, Martin’s wife, and tells her of the affair.
The letter becomes the catalyst in setting the rest of the play in motion. Martin admits the affair and tries explaining to Stevie that he loves her and Sylvia, too, and in the same way. For Martin, Sylvia’s eyes told him the love was reciprocal. One assumes that Martin has been stagnating and now has found a new release and one he cannot explain.
Stevie, and the couple’s gay son Billy, find their world simply crumbling around their feet. As Martin quietly suffers, Stevie tries to make some kind of sense out of it all but keeps finding herself defeated.
The one-act play is divided into three sections with each progressing to a tragic ending. And, as is the playwright’s wont, he tosses in dollops of humor, clever word games and mini-intellectual sparring conversations ranging from incest and pedophilia to homosexuality and bestiality.
Albee’s hyperbolical approach to “The Goat” is purposeful, and in its way, straightforward. Theatergoers will have their own interpretations as to what all this means, but from this corner it seems that the playwright is making a plea for tolerance and to not judge so quickly as he pushes theatergoers’ moral boundaries. In one conversation, Martin tries explaining to Ross that sudden and brief moments of arousal or passion do not make a person different and really does not mean anything. In other words, it happens to us all.
Under Robert Buseick’s direction the play is a good-looking production that, from this corner again, brings to light what Albee is saying. The opening night problem was a dragging pace that several times made the play sluggish. This work should run smoothly at a steady pace for its best effect. Albee’s writing and dialogue are crisp and punchy, even in a long play like his brilliant “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
The performances are good, and in Sharon Garrison’s Stevie, very good. The actress has a wonderful stage presence. In a role that could be all over the stage, Garrison corrals Stevie’s wildly changing mood swings with looks, spot-on line delivery and a command of her character. She makes Stevie the most interesting person on stage. Garrison is a fine addition to the professional repertory company.
Patric McWilliams turns in a subdued, solid performance as Martin, especially capturing the character’s distraction and sense of floating rather than being grounded. Jonathan McVay’s Ross is a good piece of work with a character wanting to laugh, chastise and comfort at the same time. Richard Stubblefield’s Billy grows as the play moves along and comes palpably alive with his third section emotional scene with McWilliams’ Martin.
Jim Hayes’ set design of the living room area of the couple’s home is very attractive with its modernistic look. That certainly is in keeping with an architect. It’s elegant and clean and features eye-catching set decorations in paintings, sculpted figures and various table ware. Marissa Brown’s light design compliments it well.
“The Goat” is provocative. If a theatergoer wants a challenge, then take it in.
Membership in THE LEAGUE is being offered to individuals and couples interested in supporting the theatre company. The mission of The League is to provide support for the theatre and develop a core of volunteers to assist in projects and fundraising events essential for the company’s future.
Membership is open to the general public. Annual membership opportunities:
FAN COUPLE $40.00
STAR SINGLE $125.00
STAR COUPLE $200.00
1 STAR/ 1 FAN $150.00
Interested? Join or send a donation (tax deductible) to:
P.O. BOX 5391
SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA 71135
Please contact Carol LaBorde at 318-797-6615
for additional information.
The Shreveport Regional Arts Council recently announced that River City Repertory Theatre, along with 12 other regional arts organizations, will be receiving funding from a federal stimulus package through the National Endowment for the Arts for the restoration and preservation of jobs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
This program is part of President Obama's effort to stimulate the economy and preserve jobs. Funds from this grant will allow jobs and salaries to be maintained which may have been lost due to the recent economic downturn. This is the first NEA grant that has been awarded to River City Rep.
River City Repertory Theatre is financially supported by The Community Foundation of Shreveport/ Bossier-Carolyn W. & Charles T. Beaird Donor Advised Fund. The funding provides support for the theatre's purchasing of technical equipment.
As River City Rep moves toward having a permanent
home in downtown Shreveport, the theatre company is actively pursuing purchasing the technical equipment the company will need for future productions in its new space.
River City Repertory Theatre is the recipient of two Louisiana Division of the Arts/Decentralized Arts Funding grants for the 2009-10 theatre season. The funds from the LDOA/DAF grants were used to produce MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS which was a participant in the EYE-20 CREATIVE CORRIDOR’s “ TRIUMPH OVER TRAGEDY” project and will be additionally used throughout the season to financially assist artistic salaries and benefits.
Louisiana Division of the Arts/Decentralized Arts Funding grants provide operating funds for non-profit arts organizations that are seeking to expand operations and also to produce specific projects. The state grants provide support to arts organizations that have made an impact locally, statewide, regionally and nationally or internationally.