26 February 2006

Albee damned

Recently Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? finally made it to the top of the Netflix queue. Sometimes when I dislike a film I will watch it again, especially if it's been highly praised, to double-check my reaction. I stand by my initial impression, which is that it is over-rated and fairly tedious, but now I know why: George. He's so f*cking boring I can't believe it. Martha I enjoy (on stage). But George . . . maybe I just find whiny manipulative men less appealing than loud-mouthed vulgarian women (again, on stage). George's dialogue is like a drunk's view of himself: My verbal fluency and dazzle will capture my victims in the web of my psychodrama! In any reality off the stage, the listener would either have shrugged George off or punched him out. (Albee's plays seem to inspire me with thoughts of punching people. . . .) That whole "get the guest" section: "My God, I can't believe that this vicious drunk is repeating the secrets I just blabbed to him ten minutes ago! He must be a -- a -- vicious drunk!" Of course, that's not what the guest says: he's just crushed by the terrible truths George has dared to reveal!!! About ten minutes into that evening I would have been getting my jacket and lying about how lovely it all was. And speaking of any reality off the stage, I can't believe no one tipped the young couple off to George and Martha's special evenings. Clearly they would be notorious on any small college campus, and you'd think someone would have said something at the preceding party. The play (or movie, I should say, since I've never seen it on stage) doesn't go far enough into the Theater of the Absurd to make the plot conveniences convincing. Taylor is terrific in her part, Burton does what he can but I'm not sure it can be played so that I would find it convincing. George Segal doesn't quite carry off his drunk scenes. His casting is interesting because these days I don't think someone who looks like him would be cast as a football player, even on the college level. America -- where the actors and athletes get buffer and the audiences get fatter!

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