The Goat Or Who Is Sylvia?

The Goat Or Who Is Sylvia?

Martin has one of those perfect lives. A 50-year-old successful architect, his marriage still rocks, and his gay son still adores his loving liberal parents.

Then Martin admits to his friend that he’s having an affair -“ with a goat. And this is not just sex -“ no, Martin loves the goat and the goat loves him.

Veteran American playwright Edward Albee uses this bestial happening to explosively probe what we construct as acceptable social and moral boundaries.

Bestiality is less the subject of the play than a provocation to reveal the nature of love, loss and the limits of our tolerance.

But there are some very funny animal sex jokes, as Martin struggles to explain his new love to his wife, his son and his friend.

Progressively smashing their art objects as his story unfolds, his furious wife taunts him about keeping a mistress in the country, and sneaking off to cruise wild stock.

Young Billy clings to his dad for reassurance and even tries momentarily to kiss him on the lips. More questions arise about the fluid nature of sexuality not always confined to acceptable outlets.

Martin’s friend suggests the real sin is less the act than the social ruin when inevitably Martin will be discovered in Sylvia’s stall, pants around his ankles.

At the centre is William Zappa, superb as Martin, making us believe his new lust and mad love, and gathering us up into his free questioning about what this now means for his life and those who share it.

With Victoria Longley thrilling as the betrayed wife, the two performances drive a play which balances between surreal absurdism, queer farce and yet also truly emotional drama. Her final bloody revenge is straight from Greek tragedy.

The mix of styles and the glorious chaos of wit and moral argument makes this an outstanding play from the 77-year-old Albee.

You can see the echoes of his much earlier hits, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf and The Zoo Story (which made him celebrated as the father of American absurdism).

Pip Miller is perfect as the horrified blokey mate, keen to remember instead with Martin the group sex of their student days. And Cameron Goodall is a delight as the highly strung gay son.

Marion Potts directs this State Theatre Company of South Australia production with a clear eye for both the banter and the bathos. A must see!

The Goat Or Who Is Sylvia? is at the Seymour Centre until 7 May.

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