George (Kelly) and Martha have been married 23 years. He teaches at a small New England College run by Martha’s father. At one time, George’s future as a possible successor to his father-in-law was bright. But it didn’t happen. Now, as Martha says he’s just “a bog” in the history department. On a particularly bitter night, a good-looking young biology professor and his wife arrive for a nightcap and soon become blood sport during a booze-drenched evening.
The last major West End outings for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? were in 2006, when Bill Irwin and Hollywood’s Kathleen Turner starred at the Apollo, and in 1996, when David Suchet and Diana Rigg played George and Martha at the Aldwych following an initial run at the Almeida Theatre. The 1966 film version starred Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
Andrew Hall’s new stage production was first seen in October 2008 at the Lichfield Garrick. It’s the first West End transfer for a show originated at the Garrick, which opened in 2003 and is named in honour of the great 18th-century actor and local boy David Garrick (See Features, 15 Sep 2003).
Commenting on the London engagement for Hall’s revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Adrian Jackson, Lichfield Garrick's artistic and executive director, said: "What a great achievement for the Lichfield Garrick and the Garrick Rep Company. This is the first time an in-house production has transferred to the West End and we are absolutely delighted. The Garrick is enjoying an unprecedented period of success, and this London run will enhance the theatre's reputation and profile within the industry."
The other members of the original four-strong cast in Lichfield – Tracy Childs (as Martha), Louise Kempton (Honey) and Mark Farrelly (Nick) – will reprise their performances in the West End alongside Kelly. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is produced by Solomon Point in association with The Lichfield Garrick Rep Company.
Since cementing a stage comeback playing gentle giant Lennie in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which won him the 2004 Best Actor Olivier (See News, 23 Feb 2004), Matthew Kelly has appeared frequently on stage – though largely outside of London, in Plymouth, Birmingham, Liverpool and elsewhere – in plays including Endgame, Mirandolina and Twelfth Night. His most recent London stage appearances, prior to Victory, were Forgotten Voices at Riverside Studios and Amadeus at Wilton’s Music Hall.
- by Terri Paddock