Sunday, March 11, 2007

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

JW and I saw it last night at the Ahmanson with Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin. It's very good. I'd go on about the experience and the performance, except that I can't get over this 2004 rewrite they were using. Is it just me, or did Albee cut half the lines about the kid? At first I wondered if they just dropped a few of them, but now I don't think so, because two key early establishing beats were completely missing from last night's performance. I need to get to a bookstore and find the revision and confirm my suspicions, but can someone help me with why?

I'm consulting my used paperback edition from the 70s, and here are the two beats I'm talking about. There may have been more, but I'm certain at least two were gone, starting with this one:
Just don't start on the bit, that's all.

The bit? The bit? what kind of language is that? What are you talking about?

The bit. Just don't start in on the bit.

You imitating one of your students, for God's sake? What are you trying to do? WHAT BIT?

Just don't start in on the bit about the kid, that's all.
And so on. That's in Act One, right before Nick and Honey arrive. Here's the other one, also in Act One, as Martha's taking Honey to the bathroom:
Just don't shoot your mouth know what.

I'll talk about any goddamn thing I want to, George!
JW noticed these missing beats, too, so it wasn't just me. Does anyone know of any statements Albee might've made about this rewrite? Or Anthony Page? Maybe there's an explanation in the new printing. I guess I'll have to get to a bookstore this week.

In the meantime, any thoughts? Anyone?

Oh, and P.S., how long have we been living with cellphones now? An announcement before the curtain rises and after BOTH intermissions isn't enough? Are you kidding me? What's so hard to understand about this? And why, WHY does it ring more than once? How many rings does it take for you to shut the damn thing off when Kathleen Turner is heaving and on the verge of collapse because her imaginary baby just got killed by her husband? FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS DECENT IN THIS WORLD AT LEAST PUT IT ON VIBRATE!


H.Fitz said...

I just caught Who's afraid and you are right about the cuts. I wonder why Albee did that? AND, FOUR cell-phones went off during the performance, AND one woman actually answered hers!!!!!!! I couldn't believe it. Only in LA.

p.s. I thought it was a good production. One of the last great American Plays. I love Albee.

h.fitz said...

p.s.s check out the NY times article on Talk Radio. I wish I could see this. And, having seen Liev several times on stage, I would have to agree that he is wonderful to watch and a great stage actor.

p.s.s.s. Check out the recent Pinter interview on Charlie Rose. Another great Playwright.

meg said...

No comments on WAVW -- a million dollars wouldn't entice Special K to go. We went to the film for our second or third date (in revival, not first-run!), and he hyperventilated at all the unpleasantness and just about had to be carried out on a stretcher.

But cellphones, now that I have a choice word or two on. Okay, I won't shoot the choice words at *you*, but I have 'em here in my holster for the next time someone takes a call in the middle of the opera or whatever. Seriously, I think it's utter hubris, not neglect; there are people out there who think their petty little affairs trump everyone's right to imbibe great performances unmolested.

Dan said...

I saw the recent NYC production and noticed that too. Albee spoke at the Dramatists Guild, and I had the chance to ask him about his rewrites. He said that he simply felt he'd overwritten certain sections.

frank's wild lunch said...

Interesting...well I suppose he's right. Still, to cut the beat that establishes the play's primary conflict is kind of a strange choice.