City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, Traverse Theatre, Review

By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 23 April 2010

John Ramm and Sian Thomas in Edward Albee's 'The Goat, or Who is Sylvia
Show Details
Traverse Theatre
Traverse Theatre Company
Edward Albee (writer), Dominic Hill (director), Jonathan Fensom (designer), Katharine Williams (lighting designer)
John Ramm (Martin), Sian Thomas (Stevie), Kyle PcPhail (Billy), Paul Birchard (Ross)
Running time: 

Edward Albee is one of America's foremost playwrights and the Traverse Theatre Company have created a riveting production of his play "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?". A controversial subject, the play revolves around one of the principal characters - Martin - falling in love with a goat. It sounds quite implausible, but Albee's writing is of such a high calibre that you can almost understand how this has happened.

Martin appears to have a perfect marriage with wife Stevie, including a well adjusted seventeen year old son whom they readily accept as being gay. However, when Martin's best friend Ross comes to do an interview with him, he confesses his love for Sylvia, the goat. Shocked, Ross writes a letter to Stevie explaining what has happened and consequently everything erupts. 

Dysfunctional relationships and explosive monologues are Albee's hallmark. He has the ability to wrench the emotions out of his characters and leave not only them reeling, but also the audience.

But, of course, for a production to work, even with exceptional writing, you need a talented cast and Dominic Hill, the director, has chosen his actors well. 

John Ramm, as Martin, captures the essence of the agony of a successful, allegedly stable adult whose life is turned upside down by this love. Sian Thomas as Stevie, makes a marvellous juxtapostion from the happy, complacent wife to one whose wrath knows no boundaries when she receives the letter. Kyle McPhail as the ungainly adolescent Billy, skilfully encapsulates the innocence of youth and the devastation of the destruction of what he considered to be a perfect family. And Paul Birchard as Ross, plays the character with self-assurance. Paul Birchard is the only natural American in the cast, but the accents of the other three actors were impeccable.

The stage set was opulent. An immaculate, bourgeois drawing-room lined with books and paintings on the wall which as the play progresses, like the characters themselves, gradually disintegrates. An excellent production. 

Running till 8 May at 7.30pm