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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (original 1962; edition 2006)

by Edward Albee

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3,190391,748 (4.03)131
Member:littleturtle82
Title:Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Authors:Edward Albee
Info:NAL Trade (2006), Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:fiction, reference, play, adult, American

Work details

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee (1962)

  1. 20
    Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (JenMDB)
    JenMDB: They're both American classics and both depressing
  2. 00
    The Cocktail Party by T. S. Eliot (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two plays of dysfunctional marriages
  3. 01
    Hay Fever by Noël Coward (thatguyzero)
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I can still recall how visceral the movie felt to me. How could it not: two stellar actors, both with oodles of history between them, aging themselves appropriately, working their butts off? It's way more than that, of course, since it's dependent on the strength of this writing. But I couldn't read the play without seeing Taylor and Burton every step of the way.

I do wonder what it was like to see on the stage (veteran actor Uta Hagen said she would play Martha twelve times a week, if given the chance). It must have been unbelievably vital, raw, scarring and despondent when seen in the flesh. Pure gold for theatre actors, and usually very hard to translate to the screen (one-room plays lose vitality as moving pictures).

But the written play! Well, obviously I wouldn't still remember the movie or want to see it on stage if I didn't think the writing was stellar. But it's a hard read - a knock-down dragged-out fight that will have you so uncomfortable you want to go look at unicorns and rainbows for a while. The perfect illusory antidote to a play that rips illusions aside.

A final note... my book club recently got me into reading plays. Almost kicking and screaming, but not quite - I think I expected them to be more like poetry, which I find even more difficult (another friend is working on me in that regard as well). In each case, I've read a play that I've already seen as a movie, and the stage directions in particular are fun to contrast and compare. As are any potential changes I might notice between the two, which are usually surprisingly few. ( )
  khage | Jan 31, 2016 |
6
  OberlinSWAP | Jul 20, 2015 |
Few plays have left a greater impression on me than this one. It is the antithesis of the Ozzie and Harriet/ Leave it to Beaver mid-century version of America. It is real. It is tough. At times tragic and hilarious, the play is a portrait of a complicated, tempestuous, and alcoholic relationship between a husband and wife.

(Btw, the movie with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor is lights-out good, and I found it to be true to the original text.)

This is not a feel-good piece of art, but it is certainly art. ( )
1 vote HunterMurphy | Jun 26, 2015 |
I found it rather funny to read this book right after reading “Three Guineas”. Why I didn’t read it sooner I’m not sure considering how big a fan I am of Virginia Woolf but who knows why I do the things I do.

Anyway, this play is now on my top 5 list of plays alongside “Streetcar Named Desire” and “No Exit”. I constantly find myself amazed at just how much story can be told by just having people sitting in one room and talking (or in this case yelling) at each other.

Essentially, this play is about four people who get together after a faulty party at a university and proceed to lie about their lives, not just to each other but to themselves. None of their lives are the way they say and throughout the play we get to see these lies crumble before them.

In fact, their allusion to Virginia Woolf is really quite amazing and in my opinion a nod to her fearless insight into the reality of things. The question, “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” comes up often in the play, mostly in the form of a song. This question forms the basis of the play by cryptically asking the question, “Who’s afraid to live without false illusions?”

It is an absolutely brilliant play that I will probably read multiple times and would love to see performed. Adding that to my growing bucket list. This play becomes a lesson in how the illusions we make about our lives do not only affect the people that we tell them to, but will in the end be our undoing. The best way to go is the way of no illusion. ( )
  kell1732 | Jan 25, 2015 |
Have you ever been out with a couple whose relationship is reaching its end and they spend the night trying to, not so subtly, demoralize each other? Well that's what this whole play is like. Just reading this was pretty uncomfortable as both the couples are constantly doing their best to inflict the biggest emotional wounds on their partners. I can't imagine trying to sit through an actual performance of this. I'd be squirming in my seat the whole time. However, I can see why this is considered a classic. There's a lot going on under the surface between both couples and watching them slowly destroy each other is somehow just as fascinating as it is unsettling. ( )
  Book_Minx | Jan 24, 2015 |
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For Richard Barr and Clinton Wilder
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Set in darkness. Crash against front door. Martha's laughter heard. Front door opens, lights are switched on. Martha enters, followed by George. MARTHA: Jesus...
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This LT work is the text edition of the play. Please do not combine the book with the movie. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451218590, Paperback)

“Twelve times a week,” answered Uta Hagen when asked how often she’d like to play Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In the same way, audiences and critics alike could not get enough of Edward Albee’s masterful play. A dark comedy, it portrays husband and wife George and Martha in a searing night of dangerous fun and games. By the evening’s end, a stunning, almost unbearable revelation provides a climax that has shocked audiences for years. With the play’s razor-sharp dialogue and the stripping away of social pretense, Newsweek rightly foresaw Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? as “a brilliantly original work of art—an excoriating theatrical experience, surging with shocks of recognition and dramatic fire [that] will be igniting Broadway for some time to come.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:16 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Drama focusing on one couple's bond and mutual bondage which is played out in their interactions with a younger couple.

(summary from another edition)

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