Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Date 21st March 2024
Society Haverhill & District Operatic Society/Centre Stage Company
Venue Haverhill Arts Centre
Type of Production Play
Director David Hart

Report

Author: Decia Ranger

I do so enjoy visiting this society. They are passionate about what they do and in the course of a year enjoy performing across a variety of genre.  They are not afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to their choice of plays and in the past couple of years, have also experimented with performing these in a more intimate setting, as was the case here.

The set was that of a living room in a house on a college campus in New England. This had been very well designed with wood panelled walls, carpet and rugs and well-chosen stage props including a well stocked drinks table, the latter playing a big part in the alcohol fueled action we were about to witness. Several table lamps created a nice warm ambience.

The audience was seated on three sides of the set and so close was I to the action that at times it felt almost as though I was an invisible presence on set.  This was no bad thing as the play was absolutely absorbing and the director quite rightly enabled us to feel we were observing an actual room, with the additional freedom this gives the actors, rather than the constraints of a stage.

Lorraine Taylor gave a powerful performance as Martha, a glamorous middle aged woman, somewhat disillusioned with life, who makes a game out of goading her rather more reserved academic husband George.  A good, controlled portrayal of George by Steve Murray, expertly handling the complexities of the character.

Strong performances from Cian Harriss and Emma Cracknell as junior professor Nick and his sickness prone wife Honey.  Initially invited back to George and Marthas for drinks following a party, the young couple find themselves being drawn into the, at times, almost inhuman games being acted out by their hosts, causing them to question their own relationship.

Acting throughout was superb and the cast were fortunate to have the benefit of strong direction.  I was aware of the prompt coming in on a few occasions, but this is more of an observation than a criticism.  It was, after all, the opening night of this three-act play, and I have nothing but praise for the way in which the actors handled their roles.

Lighting was very good, concentrating on, and therefore drawing the eye to, the performing space to the exclusion of the wider venue.

The director, according to his programme notes, had waited some time to bring this play to the stage and I congratulate him on what for me was a very intriguing and absorbing production.

Thank you for inviting me and for your hospitality. 

 

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