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The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?: Broadway Edition 1st Edition

30 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1585676477
ISBN-10: 1585676470
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Editorial Reviews


Unquestionably one of the wittiest and funniest plays Albee has ever written . . . truly fascinating . . . enthralling. -- Clive Barnes, New York Post --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Edward Albee's plays include The Zoo Story (1958), The American Dream (1960), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961–62, Tony Award), Tiny Alice (1964), A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer Prize, and Tony Award, 1996), Seascape (1974, Pulitzer Prize, also available from Overlook), Three Tall Women (1994, Pulitzer Prize), and The Play About the Baby (2001, also available from Overlook). He was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1980, and in 1996 he received both the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 110 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; 1 edition (December 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585676470
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585676477
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #835,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Brian C. Dauth on May 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When he accepted the Tony Award for Best Play in 2002, Edward Albee said he was grateful that there was room on Broadway for a play about love. In 2003 we can be grateful that Overlook Press has published The Goat, or, Who is Sylvia?
I was fortunate to see The Goat on Broadway both with the original cast (Mercedes Ruehl and Bill Pullman) and with the replacement cast (Sally Field and Bill Irwin). While both casts were superb, what was so satisfying was that the text allowed for two very different interpretations. Having now read the play, its greatness is even more apparent.
The story is a simple, though unusual, one: Martin, a successful and famous architect lives in domestic harmony with his wife Stevie and their gay son Billy. Then one day Martin falls in love with Sylvia, who happens to be a goat. Albee uses three scenes to tell his story: 1) Martin's confession to his best friend Ross about his new love; 2) Stevie's confrontation with Martin over Sylvia (whom she finds out about in a letter from Ross); and 3) the tragic, yet also hopeful (to me at least), conclusion.
In this play Albee has harnessed the wordplay of drawing room comedy to the intense emotions of tragedy. In their confrontations, Stevie and Martin switch from emotional outbusts to clever repartee and back again. They even have the wherewithal to compliment each other on their bon mots.
The audacity of this strategy and Albee's success in bringing it off, apparent on stage, become even clearer after reading the text. His intricate constructions and verbal virtuosity lend a musical feeling to the work, as if every shift of mood and emotion were part of a larger composition. Albee rings changes not only in the lives of his characters, but also in the perceptions and emotions of his audience.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By I. Sondel VINE VOICE on May 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Welcome to the quagmire of human sexuality. "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?" (a 2002 Tony Award winner for Best Play) places the audience in the jury box. The accused are Martin, his wife Stevie and their gay teen-aged son Billy. Albee challenges us to question the nature and meaning of love. Can love and shame coexist? Who defines normal? Who, or what, has been betrayed? Who decides which behaviors are acceptable? After the evidence has been presented and issues debated we realize that this play isn't about bestiality or infidelity, but rather intolerance, nonconformity and the arbitrariness of societal standards. Does Albee provide any answers? No, he insists, as he always has, that you find your own. A truly great play.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert L. Yeager on January 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Edward Albee is without question the finest American playwright we've yet had, and all through The Goat, particularly in the second and third acts, he's in top form. Structurally, it's as perfect a tragedy as anything penned by Shakespeare, perhaps even by Sophocles. And structure and form are very much what seem to be at stake. What was Chagall's famous (partially correct) quote? Something like "It doesn't matter if it's a chicken or a barn door or a red blotch - just that something be there." In The Goat, Albee inserts a goat into a tragedy of marital infidelity, and manages, in spite of it's absurd nature, to be not only hilarious, but deeply moving. The oddness of it all is set off magnificently by the fact that Martin is as conscientious, rational, and aware of linguistic connotations as nearly any character you'll see upon a stage. And as always, Albee's dialogue is masterful, his touch deft, his ear damn near infallible. If I had to take one Albee play, besides V. Woolf this might be it.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By JackOfMostTrades on May 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There are quite a few playwrights today that have mastered the craft of dramaturgy, and perhaps even enhanced it through linguistic prowess and ingenious plot development. But "The Goat" does something few plays today can do: give us a sense of the ritual nature of drama and its ability to evoke catharsis by dealing with a taboo theme in such a way that allows us to stay riveted to the action despite the underlying threat to our social and personal homeostasis. Like the best of Aristolean-influenced drama, this play presents a family embroiled in a predicament that slowly and inevitably must lead to tragedy, and, although we witness an excrutiating dilemma, we stay riveted to it because the hand of fate shows itself to be the master of our lives, a master from which we cannot disengage. Just as Oedipus or Antigone is doomed by their transgressions of societal rules, the "house" of a middle class family is doomed for reasons that are all too human and all too base, but owing to the playwright's skill with tone, dialogue, dramatic structure, and character development, keeps us watching as the lamb or "goat" is led to slaughter.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chris Torma on February 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? is a testament to the ethical irony that 1960's folk-singer/songwriter, Phil Ochs, expresses in the introduction to his song, "Love Me, I'm a Liberal":

"In every American community there are varying shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals; an outspoken group on many subjects, ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally..."

The sentiment expressed in Ochs' statement is an aphorism for what can be recognized as a central idea in The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?.

Varying degrees of deviance are attributed to those activities which are presented in this play as sexual perversion and marital infidelity: adultery, homosexuality, incest, and bestiality. All four of Albee's left-leaning upper-class characters allude to their perspective of the forgivable or acceptable nature of both adultery and homosexuality in them or in others. While our fifty-year-old tragic hero, Martin, and his seventeen-year-old son, Billy, struggle with their respective bents, the antagonists, (faithful wife, Stevie, and adulterous best-friend, Ross,) are unable to see either perversion as anything but morally twisted and devastating beyond comprehension.

Martin confesses to his lifelong friend, Ross, of his love for Sylvia, a young goat, including the detailed telling of how it was the moment that he stopped on the "crest" of a hill, (Albee's clever allusion to the literary device,) that he first noticed Sylvia, and sped downhill to meet, fall in love, and begin his affair with her.
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The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?: Broadway Edition
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