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The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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The Traverse should be applauded for breaking with their new writing policy to present this rarely performed Edward Albee play. Albee is not a playwright who makes viewing comfortable for an audience. The Goat is one of his most thought-provoking, shocking works and is given a terrific production here.

A prize-winning architect and his perfect American wife live in a tastefully decorated house. Their young son Billy is gay, but that does not seem an issue - at least on the surface - for his liberal parents. What appears to be a satisfying and idyllic existence is shattered by a devastating revelation from Martin, the father. He has fallen in love but it is with who that moves this play to a different level. The few words of confession ensures the play becomes a Greek tragedy for all.

To reveal what turns the play on its head would be to spoil for those (there will be some) who don't know. The themes of this great drama both surprise and challenge the audience, in ways that they would not have imagined going in to the theatre.

At its heart, there are two excellent performances from Kyle McPhail as the son and Paul Birchard as best friend Ross, who hears the confession and sparks off the tragedy that unfolds. Completing the quartet, two superbly acted performances from John Ramm and Sian Thomas. Entirely truthful, Ramm is completely believable and very moving as Martin, who realises that he has destroyed his life. As his wife Stevie, Thomas is terrific, veering between calm reasoning and hysteria as she seeks to deal with her husband's infidelity.

Traverse artistic director, Dominic Hill steers a fine course for the play and his actors. The play is a controversial one, unsettling and all the better for it. Edward Albee asks much of his audience and gives more in return. A great production of a fine play.

- Keith Paterson


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