What happens when relatives or friends invite you over to their house for a casual social and the two hosts break out into violent invectives, anger, outrage, and total hostility, and you are forced to sit and watch this display of self-destruction? It gets uncomfortable, to say the least. Now, add 20 to 25 people watching this display only feet away, and what do you get? A houseful of guests probably looking for the quickest exit.
The upcoming Cup-A-Jo production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? does just that. Director Everett Lowe is producing the 1962 Edward Albee play in an actual living room of a house (to be named when your purchase your tickets) in Point Breeze. According to Lowe, since all of the action of the original play occurs in a living room, why not hold the play in a real living room? According to Joanna Lowe (who plays Martha in this production), there was no other choice. The Lowe siblings have been chomping at the bit to perform Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? for years and when Cup-A-Jo decided to produce this 60’s emotional nightmare, Joanna Lowe felt that the only place this play belongs is in a real living room, with real guests forced to watch the self-destructive couple.
According to her, “it’s where it belongs.” Her brother Everett agrees. Their point is that when “the original play opened and the curtain went up, there was the living room. No scene changes. All of the action takes place in the living room. Then why not hold the play in someone’s actual living room?” Everett Lowe wants the audience to feel the authenticity of this piece and of the emotions that Martha (Joanna Lowe) and George (Brett Sullivan Santry) and house guests Nick (Tom Kolos) and Honey (Hilary Caldwell) feel.
Both Lowes fell this new type of drama, with its realism of the venue, makes the play terrifying, in your face, and extremely painful. The realism brought about when the audience is just feet away from the action is designed to turn the entire house into what Lowe refers to as a “boiling crucible” – an effect that, according to Lowe, “places very much extreme devastation not only in front of Nick and Honey, but squarely in the lap of the audience.”
And, according to Joanna Lowe, the truths of the play still have the bite they had in 1962, except the “bite is very real, very painful” to watch. The cast of four have been rehearsing in Point Breeze mansion for the past few weeks, and they feel that the raw emotions the audience will feel, being that close to the vindictiveness portrayed in the play, is well worth the cost of admission.
And, and as Everett Lowe is want to say about his version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.” Who really gets hurt (the actors or the audience) is yet to be decided.