“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by Nelson Chia (Singapore) – What hides beneath …

Esplanade Theatre Studio

28th January 2012 (Saturday) 8pm 

Details (Chinese / English)

The play has only started for about ten minutes or so, I already feel like running away from my audience seat as soon as I can – from that living room on the stage in front of me which I can feel I’m trapped inside it, from that mansion which is suffocating with so much hatred, so much woes and angers.

I just cannot imagine myself if I were the guest of that seems beautiful “cage” (the living room in their mansion) with ostentatious designs and exquisite furniture, invited by Martha who is around her fifties. To be witnessing how she and her husband, George, an elderly professor of her father’s university whose status is always few levels lower than his wife, a “submissive” husband to her, interacting with each other; it must be an extremely unendurable experience for me!

But not so lucky for newcomer professor, Nick and his wife, Honey (both at their thirties) who are invited over to George and Martha’s house for a late night party and are caught in between by their violent verbal battle.

Giving no chance in waiting any longer, George and Martha are taking this opportunity in finding all ways, in destroying each other’s self esteem, exploring their own and each other’s dark secret, direct and indirectly, (seen and unseen by the audiences) in front of their guests.

They seems like “enjoying” doing so as they find “joys” in torturing each other, and later on, onto Nick and Honey, to uncover their double lives (maybe the person who has the similar personality and led the same life will know best) as this younger couple is also great liars of pretending to be perfect loving couples in front of people, but in actual fact, they are not!

Inebriated by few rounds of alcohol, the characters went on to speak and behave outraging from their “usual” selves or perhaps that are which their true selves are! Leaving us the audiences in bewilderment in order to differentiate whether what they have said are the truth and lies.

***

I like how this play make use of the staircase and the door when one or two characters disappearing from the stage leaving the remaining characters having the chance to reveal more about themselves and also make us wondering what is the disappearing party doing or saying to another character without our knowing.

It is amazing to find out that so many things can happen in one night.

I couldn’t forget how the last scene was presented when the living room only leave only George and Martha alone again like the first scene, but the different is now their roles, have been shifted – George is no longer in his “submissive” role or a “weakling” to his wife.

As the living room’s light slowly fades away (the night has gone), replacing by the morning light shining through the window; the room still remain as cold as it is, the irony is even colder than before. Because of the tragedy in the lives of the characters, because all of them have been cruelly scarred by what happened to them before the morning – the “game” they called it – their masked lives they have to continue, living like living corpses.

It reminds me of the earlier scene at the beginning of the play, when Martha was trying to tidy the living room before the guests had arrived, she was stuffing the clothes which were laying all over the place, behind the sofa cushions – what you see on the surface might not be what it is; nobody know what exactly has been hidden beneath unless you have uncovered it.

Just like no one is able to read a person’s mind and what is hidden beneath.

***

This play has also given a very good example of how it is like when love has becoming hatred, when trust has becoming doubt; when something once so beautiful before can becoming so ugly.

The unity and the battle between a man and a woman is just a fine thin line as human’s heart is the most fragile; if not handle with care, anytime it may turn our life from heaven to hell if we were trapped inside an unfulfilling marriage like the one in this play.

Therefore, do not take any relationship for granted.

***

I’m very impressed by the complexity of this play and put my hat off to the clever hands of the playwright, Edward Albee. It is so brilliant of him of allowing the audiences to have multi-interpretation from a story which only happened in a night; not giving us a direct or absolutely so called “correct” or only “one” answer.

I like how the director, Nelson Chia, when answering to an audience during the post-dialogue session about whether George and Martha really have a son, and what should be the ending; he says whether you think is your interpretation, just take it as it is, trust yourself as the thoughts you have in you is the most precious; keep them in you. So in short, there is no correct or wrong answer in this play; different person will have different reading of it.

I realise we are so used to have only one politically correct answer in our usual conformity life, so when told that there is no definite answer, we get uneasy and feel a bit lost in certain extent.

Does it also reflect that we are slowly losing our ability to think in our own feet??

Why not trust ourselves and have our own answer for a change? =)

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