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The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia? at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company | Theater review

Edward Albee’s deeply, expertly uncomfortable 2002 play gets our goat in James Bohnen’s smartly paced revival.

Photograph: Johnny Knight
Nick Sandys and Will Allan in Remy Bumppo Theatre Company's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

There’s something animal about the unknowable sources of love and lust, as Albee’s wonderfully disquieting 2002 drama reminds us. Martin (Sandys), a successful architect who’s just turned 50, enjoys a happy marriage with his wife, Stevie (Armour); they live comfortably with their teenage son Billy (Allan), telling themselves they’re comfortable with Billy’s homosexuality. But Martin, as contented as he is, has fallen in love with another, as he unwisely confides to his lifelong friend Ross (Michael Joseph Mitchell).

While as tart as ever, Albee’s seemingly in a playful mood here. As distasteful as the topic at hand may be on the surface, the fearless, peerless playwright eases us into it; his characters’ attempts to defuse tension by means of semantic games and evasions of language provide ready laughs. But Albee has a few more tricks up his sleeve once he and Bohnen’s smartly paced production have lulled us into repose.

In her second Albee outing of the season after Victory Gardens’ At Home at the Zoo, Armour is at the top of her game as the righteously wronged, pottery-smashing Stevie. Allan, in a role that initially seems facilely sullen but takes crucial, unexpected turns, continues to be one of the city’s most appealing young actors. Sandys, though, remains a bit too coolly removed from Martin’s anguish—up until the play’s closing moments, when he connects with Allan and, ultimately, with Sylvia.

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