Review: The Goat (Or Who Is Sylvia?)
Words by Juliet Lochrin
Want to know who Sylvia is?
Too bad. Go and see the play.
For premium shock/comedic value, a complete lack of knowledge of the play’s synopsis is paramount, so while I will not reveal any spoiler, I will promise you this: you won’t regret going to watch. You will regret finding out who Sylvia is.
When you know that the playwright of “The Goat, or who is Sylvia?” is also the man behind “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, you know you’re about to watch some pretty messed up sh*t. “The Goat” deals with taboo topics (bestiality and paedophilia to name a few) and does so in a way that any revulsion transforms into equal parts incredulity and humour. WEDNESDAY’s performance at the Cellar Theatre had the audience in fits of laughter – a considerable amount of which can be attributed to Stevie’s (played by Serena Dalton) scathingly dry delivery. For a subject matter that is (hopefully) completely unrelatable to all of us, all of the actors in this play execute their lines with an authenticity – and an understanding of the magnitude of the situation their characters are in – that makes me wonder if we need to consult a therapist or four.
Jokes aside, the show was entertaining, engaging, and full of nuance. A special mention is required for the performances of lead actors Stuart Robinson (as Martin) and Serena Dalton (as Stevie). Robinson boasted all the light, shade and colour in his performance of a man trying to simultaneously justify and bury feelings he cannot help. Dalton had a commanding stage presence and effortlessly carried the array of emotions that constituted the audience’s point of view. Their chemistry could both lift and shrivel each other up on-stage, and it was a fascinating dynamic to watch. Sophie Morrissey’s performance as Billie was also courageous and portrayed well, and Tim Ogborne was a dynamic and hilarious force as Ross.
Of course, none of this could have come together without the directorial vision of Margaret Thanos, and the support that she credited towards her hard-working crew – Keshini de Mel (Producer), and Emily Henderson and Declan Coyle (Assistant Directors), in particular. Thanos’ interpretation of “The Goat” is a vibrant and dynamic one that not only ropes the audience into the intricacies of the set design (kudos to Set Designer, Nicole Pingon, and Assistants, Yoomi Shin and Jack Gibson), but is one that transforms the space of the Cellar Theatre into something that is constantly shifting and used to the utmost by the performers. Thanos notes that she felt “challenged and excited by the ideas and arguments Albee brings up through his characters” and “longed to bring [the play] to life”.
The verdict: stellar reviews to all the cast and crew. It was a wonderful experience to be in the audience and I recommend that you give it a watch… even if only to note how startlingly eerie it is when one replaces the play’s allegory of ‘bestiality’ with ‘homosexuality’ – there was, and still is, a time where such reactions to bestiality in the play were focused towards homosexuality in our social reality. In the words of Margaret Thanos: “it could not be more relevant.”
…May I just ask, though: in a play that deals with sexuality, family relationships, and animals, is it a coincidence that Martin and Stevie’s daughter, Billie, is named after a billy goat? #awks