The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?

The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?

‘It’s a drawing room comedy,’ says the Traverse Theatre’s artistic director Dominic Hill, ‘about a man who has an affair with a goat.’ This description doesn’t tell you everything you need to know of this play about the vagaries of sexuality and social acceptability, but it’s certainly the part that should grab your attention. The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? is a later work by Edward Albee, writer of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, and this run at the Traverse will be the 2002 work’s premiere in Scotland.

‘It confronts taboos, but it’s funny at the same time,’ says Hill, also the director of this run. ‘It challenges the audience to imagine the unimaginable and to engage with the world in a different way. The play absolutely does that, but within a tragicomic framework.’ By making Martin, the goat-loving unfortunate at the centre of the story, a married, middle-aged architect, Albee’s play is also positioned at the eye-level of your typical middle class theatre-going audience.

‘It’s incredibly funny, incredibly witty, and there’s a real musicality to the dialogue,’ says Hill. ‘At the same time, there’s an epic nature about it. There are only four people in it, but it works like an epic Greek tragedy, and of course, the name is a reference to Shakespeare, from The Two Gentlemen of Verona. There are lots of little allusions like that in there.’ It is, in other words, a play which holds a mirror up to the very people it seeks to entertain.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 17 Apr–Sat 8 May

The Goat, Or Who is Sylvia?

Marital problems and unconventional desires surface in one of Edward Albee's more recent plays.

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