Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf On Stage At The Ice House

Mar 6, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Theatre

by Nancy Holley

Special KRL coupon at the end of this article.

Edward Albee’s Tony award winning play is being presented by the Visalia Players. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf has the unity of time, place, and action associated with Greek theatre. The story unfolds and resolves in a single evening at the home of George and Martha.

George is a professor at a small New England college. Martha expected him to become head of his department and perhaps dean of the college, but she has been sadly disappointed. As the scene opens, George and Martha are just returning from a party, and Martha has asked a young couple, Honey and Nick, to join them for a night cap. Let the games begin!
Martha (Susan Mathews) and George (Craig Harrill) love each other, but that love is frequently difficult to recognize because of the games they play, goaded on by alcohol induced fuzziness and unfiltered emotions. Mathews sees Martha as a woman who wants to prove she is somebody, but because of the era (1961), must glean her importance through George who is an extreme disappointment. Mathews says she receives more reactions when she tells people she is playing Martha than any role she has ever done. “Martha is controversial and a challenge.”

From left to right: Susan Mathews (Martha); Craig Harrill (George); Aaron Johnson (Nick); and in the back is Karly Butler-Shirk (Honey)

Harrill describes George as having a pitiful life full of dashed hopes and dreams and believes his pitifulness spills over into Martha’s life. Nevertheless, “despite the dysfunctions associated with Martha and George’s relationship, they keep fighting to survive. George is a challenging role, stretching me as a human being and causing me to pull out all the tools I have acquired over the years.”

Martha has ostensibly asked Honey and Nick to the house because her father has said George and Martha should be nice to them, particularly Nick who is an up and coming young professor, but is that the real motivation? Is there another layer of game playing behind the invitation?

Nick (Aaron Johnson) wants to get ahead regardless of the tactics and would never turn down an invitation from the college dean’s daughter. Nick originally thought that Honey (Karly Butler-Shirk) would be an asset to his career, but now sees her as excess baggage—another dysfunctional marriage.

Johnson describes Nick as his polar opposite, but not a difficult character to portray. “He’s an egotist concerned about appearance and looking for a quick fix to attain his goals.” Despite Honey’s sweet, innocent, bright-eyed appearance, Butler-Shirk says that when Honey sees Martha and George interact, she recognizes the “foreshadowing that she and Nick might become another Martha and George.”

Butler-Shirk envisions the play as intriguing for audiences—relatable but foreign. “For people to treat each other with disrespect and yet love each other is interesting to watch.”

From left to right: Craig Harrill (George); Susan Mathews (Martha); Aaron Johnson (Nick); and Karly Butler-Shirk (Honey).

Director Donny Graham views the play as a dark comedy and loves the play because of its passion. Graham notes that “people go through life having relationships and most of them are not easy. Martha and George choose a life that is passionate at the upper range of the scale. They don’t want to settle for less.”

Following his director’s vision, Johnson also believes the play as dark comedy, but in addition, he thinks that it might make good couples’ therapy. “If you can watch the show and say you never do that, you are probably in good shape, but if you see any of the conflicts in your own life, it may give you pause to work on your relationships.”

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf opens at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 8, 2013 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 3/8, 3/9, 3/15, 3/16, 3/22, and 3/23 and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 3/10, 3/17, and 3/24.

For more information about the Visalia Community Players, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.

Print this page and take it to the show to get discount:
Visalia Community Players Two-For-One Coupon

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
By Edward Albee
Admit 2 Adults for $14.00
Coupon good for any performance of the play.
One Coupon Per Family
Reservations Suggested – 559-734-3900

Watch for a new Local Live every Wednesday evening at 7!

Nancy Holley has been involved in the Visalia Community Players off and on since the 1970s, both as a director and actor. In 2010, she retired from 25 years as a software consultant and has since expanded her role at the Players. She is now President of the Board and responsible for Box Office/Hosting volunteers.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.