The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?
By Edward Albee

The tale of a married, middle-aged architect whose life crumbles when he falls in love with a goat, the play focuses on where the limits of an ostensibly liberal society are. Through showing this family in crisis, Albee challenges audience members to question their own morality in the face of other social taboos including infidelity, homosexuality, incest and, of course, bestiality.

The play also features many language games and grammatical arguments in the middle of catastrophes and existential disputes between the characters.

The name of the play refers to the song "Who is Silvia" from Shakespeare's play The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Proteus sings this song, hoping to woo Silvia. Franz Schubert's setting of the song contributed to its popularity outside Shakespeare's play.

The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? at the Mark Taper Forum

By Paula Jessop
Photos by: Craig Schwartz

Martin has it all. He's a world-class architect with a loving wife and a comfortable relationship with his gay teenage son. He's just landed a lucrative contract and is about to receive a prestigious international prize. But when Martin confides to his best friend a secret that could destroy him, his marital bliss takes a sharp turn, threatening his family and career. A darkly funny, passionate play about the limits of compassion, understanding and tolerance, and the nature of love itself.

Edward Albee's most provocative and controversial play since "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?".  " The Goat" won four major awards including the Tony Award for best new play. A three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, Albee's extensive work includes "Three Tall Women", presented at the Taper in 1996.

Founding Artistic Director of the Center Theatre Group, Gordon Davidson says of the playwright Edward Albee and "The Goat" … "Albee is an artist of disruptive and thrilling originality… His play "The Goat" powerfully demonstrates, time has neither mellowed Albee nor dimmed his genius. The play explores some perennial Albee subjects: marriage, the substance of relationship, the fragility of our assumptions and certainties about ourselves and others. But, as is so often the case with this commanding master, the approach is joltingly original:a fascinating combination of provocation, playfulness, and a piercing empathy for human vulnerability - and yes, it helps redefine the nature of tragedy in the modern era."

Just walking into the Mark Taper Forum's theatre is in itself exciting. The display cases filled with theatrical awards including several Tony's are a dead give away that you are in for an evening of real theatre. Not a watered down version of someone's idea of safe public entertainment. But a place where risks are taken and new ideas are conceived. Their current production of "The Goat" is a living testament to this spirit.

To begin with the sets and lighting are beautiful. The entire play takes place in a living room, which looks like it was lifted out of the pages of Architectural Digest. The costumes are deceptively simple yet it is apparent that a great deal of energy and effort went into their design to help support and tell the story of the play. And the props were unbelievably elegant for their use.

Warner Shook the director deftly took material, which in lesser hands could be viewed as not only shocking and disturbing but simply unpalatable.  Instead making it shocking, disturbing, humorous and very shatteringly human. Skillfully capturing each note and nuance the writer had embedded into this script. 

Each of the actors was incredible in the playing of their roles. Patrick J. Adams who plays the role of the teenage son Billy, began his career at the Taper as an intern and is making his professional debut. Adams played his part with a shattering vulnerability.

James Eckhouse gave a strong scrupulously, meticulous performance as Ross a long time friend of the family.

Brian Kerwin as Martin was endearing, devastating, heartbreaking, and absolutely everything the part called for.

Cynthia Mace as Stevie. No, simply put, she was Stevie. Brilliantly playing the love and anguish of her character. Mace raises the bar on the standard of what can be called great acting.

If you want to see what real acting is these folks hit not only a home run but they hit it out of the ball park.  "The Goat" is definitely a definite must see. This production belongs on Broadway.