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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best modern plays
A play in three acts, a very simple setting, and only four characters who live in a small, university town in America: a middle-aged couple, Martha and George. And a "young and innocent" couple, Nick and Honey. They all meet in a room, in Martha and George's house, very late one night, for a nightcap. And then...all hell breaks lose.
The play tears...
Published on May 9, 2000 by Cassandra

versus
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Revision does no service to Nick and Honey
I was shocked to see that the new revision omits the end of Act II, "Walpurgisnacht". George and Honey have a key confrontation. George says "How to you make your secret little murders stud-boy doesn't know about, hunh? Pills? PILLS? You got a secret supply of pills? Or what? Apple-jelly? WILL POWER?"

Several pages are omitted; perhaps Albee wanted to...
Published on July 1, 2007 by Natalie


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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best modern plays, May 9, 2000
By 
A play in three acts, a very simple setting, and only four characters who live in a small, university town in America: a middle-aged couple, Martha and George. And a "young and innocent" couple, Nick and Honey. They all meet in a room, in Martha and George's house, very late one night, for a nightcap. And then...all hell breaks lose.
The play tears apart both marriages: the middle aged couple, who seem to hate each other and in the end turn out to be much more devoted to each other as it would seem. The young, seemingly perfect couple, who turn out to have lots of problems of their own. In three heart-breaking scenes, using dialogue that cuts like a knife, Edward Albee has written a masterpiece. He manages to give a clear-cut, honest picture of the reality of marriage, the reality of love, and the fears that go hand in hand with love and intimacy. At some point, in act three, Martha talks about her husband- and it's probably one of the best pieces of literature I've read:
"...George who is out somewhere there in the dark...George who is good to me, and whom I revile; who understands me, and whom I push off; who can make me laugh, and I choke it back in my throat; who can hold me, at night, so that it's warm, and whom I will bite so there's blood; who keeps learning the games we play as quickly as I can change the rules; who can make me happy and I do not wish to be happy, and yes I do wish to be happy, George and Martha: sad, sad, sad."
What more can I say? just read the play, and if you get the chance, watch it performed in the theatre, too.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Beautiful Modern Drama, July 5, 1999
By A Customer
Looking past the rough language and the slew of verbal insults, one can see a sheer literary masterpiece. It wonderfully shows the struggle of George and Martha trying to come to terms with the reality they have created for themselves. When George discloses the secret of their son's nonexistence, he is forcing he and his wife to forfeit their mind games and live as functional human beings. By the way, in rebuttal, the title is absolutely perfect. Anyone with literary knowledge knows that Virginia Woolf was a realist who tried to present life as it truly is. Martha, at the end, is afraid of Woolf, or the symbol of life without pretenses.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, sassy, funny!, November 18, 2003
Brilliantly vitriolic, witty, and sassy, this is one of the most engrossing and readable dramas you are likely to come across. At its most basic level, this play is so simple - just four characters, one room, and all the action taking place in the space of a few hours. But in terms of substance this is a powerfully rich and complex work of genius. The writing cuts like a sharp knife, the characters are exquisitely developed and original, and their chemistry is charged with an undeniable energy.
The characters are at odds with each other throughout the play, and yet it is difficult to takes sides with only one of them. They are all both likeable and dislikeable at the same time. George is a mean-spirited passive-aggressive with a huge chip on his shoulder, but it's impossible not to root for him as he joyfully attacks his wife, Martha, for her fondness of the bottle and various other sins. Nick's demeanor is just a tad holier-than-thou, but it is easily forgivable given the outrageous treatment he is forced to endure throughout the evening. Honey, his wife, is a ditz and a lush, but loveable in the same way as an Irish Setter. Any one of the four could easily carry the show, and together they create a powerful tension that keeps the play moving at a brisk pace.
It is easy to see why Albee's writing has earned him a Pulitzer Prize. What is surprising is that is was another, lesser-known play and not this one that he won it for.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best dramas on man/woman misunderstanding, January 12, 2002
By 
Ventura Angelo (Brescia, Lombardia Italy) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is the stuff real drama is made:the human soul.And we see four torn, ravaged soul caught in a maelstrom of bitter emotions caused by frustration,unrequited love,anger and guilt feelings. Martha can't understand George's despair, that his apathy is generated by his ultimate failure to find a source of hope and meaning in his life; George can't understand the frustration of Martha, her own feeling of failure being incapable to connect whit him, to save him from his passive/aggressive depression; nor can Nick and Honey comprehend them, and indeed themselves. The sadistic rituals of games are like pagan sacrifices, made by the characters to the god of modern angst to know the truth on themselves. As the sad truth is revealed, they emerge maybe purified, surely wiser.This drama is like an interpretation of Eliot's Wasteland . The spirit,expecially in the final scenes,is very similar.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Communication Problem, May 13, 2001
Edward Albee truly explores and humiliates the human fallacy of communication and insecurity in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with the use of repetition and a critical and satirical tone. In the play, Albee creates a tension between the two main characters of George and Martha. Throughout the play, Martha repeatedly sings "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Although this song correlates to the title of the play, it also contains a deeper and more stylistic purpose to it. It basically means "Who's Afraid of life without false illusions?" according to Albee. When Martha sings George this very song, she is really asking him if he can continue life without lying to himself, but rather be honest with himself and live with the truth. This repetition of questioning with the song creates the feeling of insecurity within the characters. It arrives to the question if they can really handle the situation. In another example of repetition, Albee repeatedly has the characters of George and Martha suspiciously talk of and mention about their son. The repetition of this illusion by these characters creates the fantasy, which they live by, and how they carry on with this fantasy to fulfill their happiness. This correlates to the problem of insecurity Albee wishes to create through the use of the characters. Not only does Albee use this repetition to carry out his philosophical views on human existence, but he also validates the communicable issues with the satirical and critical tone throughout the play. The satirical tones of the sick games the couples fancy during the play spark a disturbing appearance toward the characters and their disgusting communication. Albee truly makes a disturbing communication problem when Martha plays "Humiliate the Host". She picks and edges at George's weakest aspects and embarrassments. This satirical tone demeans the couple's communication as Martha humiliates her husband in front of the guests. These disturbing game shows the true disgust of the American society as Albee demonstrates. Not only does his writing open a new door for us to look in to, but it also helps to pinpoint our nation's problems. The use of the character's insecurities not only relate to Albee's purpose of demonstrating a couple's in ability to cope and deal with life, but it also deals with society's problems. The stylistic strategies of Albee aid in our discovery of his purpose in the play but also in society.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ouch!, October 3, 2010
This review is from: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Paperback)
Opening in 1962, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? blindsided audiences of the so-called "Camelot" era: everyone who saw it was shocked by its profanity, sexual content, unrelenting verbal viciousness, and its sharp and unswerving portrait of hidden disillusionment. People who dislike the play--and there are many--tend to describe it as three hours of unattractive people screaming at each other, and it is therefore tempting to think of the play as a critic's darling that lacks popular appeal. Nothing could be less true. The original production ran well over six hundred performances; had two major Broadway revivals to date; has been performed by virtually every professional, academic, and community theatre in the English-speaking world; and was translated into an extremely popular and award-winning film. If anything, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? is even more popular today than it was when it opened fifty years ago.

The basic story is extremely well known. George is an associate college professor; his wife is the college president's daughter. They have attended a faculty party and now return home very tired and more than a little drunk. George looks forward to bed and sleep--but Martha informs him she has invited a new professor and his wife to join them for drinks. George is not enthusiastic but he agrees, although he warns Martha not to discuss their son. When Nick and Honey, also tired and more than a little drunk, they find themselves an unwilling audience to George and Martha's vicious verbal sparring. They are quickly sucked into the battle, and when Martha tells her guests about her son, George determines to put an end to their verbal games once and for all. But can Martha, their guests, even George survive the unflinching light of reality? The play is extremely, extremely funny in its dialogue, and Albee displays wit that is equal to the likes of Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde; even so, laughter is the rug that is constantly pulled out from under foot to send the characters reeling on their collision courses, and the play itself is dark and painful.

Over the years many people have complained about the play's ending, which like such recent films as THE SIXTH SENSE and MULLHOLLAND DRIVE suddenly forces the audiences to question everything they have been told over the course of the entire evening. How much of it was real? The story about the boxing match, was that true? The story about the boy who killed his parents, was that true? The play does not simply end on a note of uncertainty, it ends with a deeply disquieting sense of wonder. Who would put themselves through such a display in an effort to maintain their fantasies and illusions? Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf--afraid to look at their lives in the unflinching light of hard reality? Aren't we all, to at least some degree?

Whenever I review a playscript I like to note that plays are intended to be seen, not read, and readers who have little knowledge of dramatic conventions may find it very difficult to grasp how a play works on the stage. I do not, however, find that to be the case with WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, which reads as well on the page as it plays on the stage. It remains a controversial show, and it is very much a love-it-or-hate-it play. But no one interested in American or world drama can afford to miss reading it or seeing it. Strongly recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
In Memory of friend Jerry Williams
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You gotta have a swine to show you where the truffles are.", May 18, 1999
This was Albee's first three-act play. It was also made into a film with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, and Sandy Dennis. A cocktail party given by an unsuccessful history professor (George) and his wife (Martha) for a new instructor (Nick) with his wife (Honey) turns into a long session of arguments, verbal abuse, revelations, and catharsis. There are several references to George and Martha's 21-year-old son who we later discover to be nonexistent. The younger couple, who are having a child, turn out to have a sterile marriage as well, albeit for different reasons. This play won the 1962-1963 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. This play is filled with great dialogue: witticisms, verbal abuse, sorrow, and even compassion. It is easily one of the top dramas of the twentieth century.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Revision does no service to Nick and Honey, July 1, 2007
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I was shocked to see that the new revision omits the end of Act II, "Walpurgisnacht". George and Honey have a key confrontation. George says "How to you make your secret little murders stud-boy doesn't know about, hunh? Pills? PILLS? You got a secret supply of pills? Or what? Apple-jelly? WILL POWER?"

Several pages are omitted; perhaps Albee wanted to decrease the run-time of the play. I have no idea. The shortening and the omission of key speeches are not worth the addition of the "F" word. Honey and Nick become a less complex and nuanced couple; her participation in secrets and her ambivalence about child-birth and motherhood are, essentially, removed from the text.

It's an unkind cut.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars using x to show y, May 6, 2001
By 
jordan gottlieb (Arlington, Tx USA) - See all my reviews
In his most famous play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee uses a seemingly non-violent and peaceful setting, coupled with sarcastic and very violent dialogue, along with a game motif to give the reader a sense of what true love is. The play opens with an older couple, George and Martha, who have just returned from a party at the college at which George works. The two invite a newly hired professor, Nick, and his young wife, Honey, to some over afterwards. Even before Nick and Honey enter, George and Martha are arguing and bickering over what seems like nothing, who should go and get the door. Nick and Honey timidly enter into the whirlwind of cut-downs and the constant apologies. They enter into a game, a number of games in fact, that leads to their confessions of true love for one another. George uses sarcasm and a friendly tone to cause Nick to open up to him and befriend him. George uses this newly found companionship to coerce Nick into sleeping with Martha, which just furthers her intuition that George is the only man that makes her truely happy. Albee, throughout all of these transgressions, shows a complete and total understanding of the human psyche. The characters constant bickering and their reactions to one anothers insults, holds true to mankind. The not always pleasant dialogue, and sexually explicit happenings allow the average reader to feel connected to this story. It reads like a soap opera, with innumerable plot twists and incessant back-stabbing. And, as most of us know, the vast majority of soap operas end in a confession or discovery of love. Through his use of many different situations, plot twists, and dialogue, Albee allows his characters George and Martha to realize how much they love one another.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Has to be the Best Play Ever Written! I Loved It!, June 20, 2002
By 
Michael Crane (Orland Park, IL USA) - See all my reviews
Wow. I never thought I could like a play so much. I had to read this for a class in college, so I admit that I didn't know what I was in for. I would've never thought that I would enjoy reading a play. This is a work of art with every line having meaning and significance.
A quick summary of the story without giving too much away: This is the story about an elderly couple who seem to hate each other with a passion. They're rude, loud, offensive, and insulting. When they invite a younger couple to their house, things quickly start to get out of control, while the elderly couple use their guests as sheilds and pawns in their brutal arguements and such. The story ends with a shocking resolution that will catch you off guard.
The dialogue in this play is so beautifully written. It reads like the way people actually talk. That is why I enjoyed it so much. It also enriched the characters that much more. Edward Albee did a magnificent job of weaving a tale that seems so realistic it's as if we are there at that house on that very night. There are no minor characters; everyone is important in a very significant way. It is refreshing to be able to get to know each character and the hopes, dreams, ambitions, and the conflicts that lie within.
I really enjoyed reading this wonderfully structured play. Much so that I have already read it at least seven times. It is a very easy read. And since it is mostly dialogue, it really doesn't take long to read. You could easily finish it in a day or two if you really put your heart to it. Even if you don't enjoy reading novels, maybe this is the solution. There is no lengthy descriptions of what color the characters' eyes are or what they're wearing. Just good old dialogue that will have you hooked from the very beginning. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" is an outstanding play that will forever remain a true classic in American Literature.
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee (Paperback - August 1, 2006)
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