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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962)

by Edward Albee

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,006562,229 (4)146
George, a disillusioned academic, and Martha, his caustic wife, have just come home from a faculty party. When a handsome young professor and his mousy wife stop by for a nightcap, an innocent night of fun and games quickly turns dark and dangerous. Long-buried resentment and rage are unleashed as George and Martha turn their rapier-sharp wits against each other, using their guests as pawns in their verbal sparring. By night's end, the secrets of both couples are uncovered and the lies they cling to are exposed. Considered by many to be Albee's masterpiece, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" is a "brilliantly original work of art -- an excoriating theatrical experience, surging with shocks of recognition and dramatic fire" ("Newsweek").… (more)
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» See also 146 mentions

English (51)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
Note: Avoid the Signet version, or any other revised for Broadway edition, as it removes from the end of Act 2 a part that pretty much all the bigwigs think of as a key scene. ( )
  irrelephant | Feb 21, 2021 |
I read this play in one sitting, which is not a difficult task, as it isn’t a long book. There are just four characters, and it takes place in real time – both of these points appealed to me.

George and Martha are a middle aged couple who live on a New England university campus. George is a history lecturer and Martha is the Dean’s daughter. Although they have been married for years, and seem like they would be lost without each other, they also despise each other and both take pleasure in taunting the other.

Things take a sinister turn – although you suspect not for the first time – when a young Biology lecturer named Nick, who is new to the university visits them after a party one night, bringing his naive wife Honey with him. Nick and Honey become drawn into the older couple’s private war, and become pawns in their game.

In the third act, a secret is revealed about George and Martha which goes some way towards explaining their antagonism towards each other (no spoilers here).

It’s a bleak read, and somewhat dated now. Still, I am glad I read it, and would recommend it, but I actually prefer the film version with excellent performances from Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. ( )
1 vote Ruth72 | Jan 30, 2021 |
Der Titel klingt heiter und wie eine bloße Variante des Kinderliedes ›Wer hat Angst vor dem bösen Wolf?‹ Aber hinter dieser scheinbaren Harmlosigkeit verbirgt sich das Chaos menschlicher Beziehungen. Schauplatz des Dramas ist eine Wohnung, in der sich zwei Ehepaare nach einer Party treffen. Man vertreibt sich die Zeit mit Gesellschaftsspielen, die zum Anlaß der Selbstentblößung werden. Albee geht es dabei um die Aufdeckung menschlicher Illusionen. Er zeichnet mit ebensoviel Wehmut wie Ironie, zugleich messerscharf und doch mitfühlend das Bild des Menschen, dem offenbar alles zum ›Glücklichsein‹ zur Verfügung steht und der doch nur um so hoffnungsloser allein ist.
  Fredo68 | May 14, 2020 |
Der Titel klingt heiter und wie eine bloße Variante des Kinderliedes ›Wer hat Angst vor dem bösen Wolf?‹ Aber hinter dieser scheinbaren Harmlosigkeit verbirgt sich das Chaos menschlicher Beziehungen. Schauplatz des Dramas ist eine Wohnung, in der sich zwei Ehepaare nach einer Party treffen. Man vertreibt sich die Zeit mit Gesellschaftsspielen, die zum Anlaß der Selbstentblößung werden. Albee geht es dabei um die Aufdeckung menschlicher Illusionen. Er zeichnet mit ebensoviel Wehmut wie Ironie, zugleich messerscharf und doch mitfühlend das Bild des Menschen, dem offenbar alles zum ›Glücklichsein‹ zur Verfügung steht und der doch nur um so hoffnungsloser allein ist.
  Fredo68 | May 14, 2020 |
George and Martha are a middle-aged couple who live on a New England university campus; he teaches History, she is the Dean's daughter. They invite a new colleague and his wife over for a nightcap after a university function and, as the night wears on and the drinking grows heavier, subject them to their twisted hate games. For George and Martha loathe each other: their intentionally toxic relationship consists mainly of sniping at each other about flaws real or imagined -- mediocrity, adultery, patricide, overbearing parents. They are vindictive assholes whose only joy is found in going out of their way to be hurtful to each other; their guests are largely there to turn the whole thing into a fetishistic performance.

I suspect the revelations in the third act were supposed to make their relationship seem poignant or even tragic or something, but I couldn’t find it in me to care. George and Martha are vicious assholes who chose to be that way and who choose to continue down that path: they’re entirely responsible for all their nastiness and bullshit, and I see no reason to pity them or even think of them as 3D-characters. They are the Serious Literature equivalents of that one-dimensional Big Bad from dreadfully written genre fiction, who is just evil for no adequately explained reason.

It was at least a little creative, though, and the buildup in acts one and two was good, and so I’ll give it two stars. ( )
1 vote Petroglyph | Jul 10, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edward Albeeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Braun, PinkasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Capriolo, EttoreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Collo, PaoloIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reve, Gerard Kornelis van hetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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George, a disillusioned academic, and Martha, his caustic wife, have just come home from a faculty party. When a handsome young professor and his mousy wife stop by for a nightcap, an innocent night of fun and games quickly turns dark and dangerous. Long-buried resentment and rage are unleashed as George and Martha turn their rapier-sharp wits against each other, using their guests as pawns in their verbal sparring. By night's end, the secrets of both couples are uncovered and the lies they cling to are exposed. Considered by many to be Albee's masterpiece, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" is a "brilliantly original work of art -- an excoriating theatrical experience, surging with shocks of recognition and dramatic fire" ("Newsweek").

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George, a disillusioned academic, and Martha, his caustic wife, have just come home from a faculty party. When a handsome young professor and his mousy wife stop by for a nightcap, an innocent night of fun and games quickly turns dark and dangerous. Long-buried resentment and rage are unleashed as George and Martha turn their rapier-sharp wits against each other, using their guests as pawns in their verbal sparring. By night's end, the secrets of both couples are uncovered and the lies they cling to are exposed. Considered by many to be Albee's masterpiece.
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