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Did Damian Lewis get the critics' goat in The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

Find out what the reviews were like for the revival of Edward Albee's play


Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage


"Edward Albee was 73 when The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? first opened on Broadway in 2002 and the play makes me think of a late painting by Picasso or cut out by Matisse... Part tragedy – what happens when a man with a perfect life is undone by a fatal flaw – and part ferocious social comedy – how far is society prepared to tolerate difference – it is both apparently simple and utterly complex. "

"The sheer density of the writing means that the play can be taken as being about many themes, and it does encompass all of them. But at its dark centre is a heartfelt examination of exactly what it takes to break a liberal, right-thinking family apart. "

"It is Sophie Okonedo as Stevie who most perfectly catches the emotional tug that gives the play its impact... The conflict between them sometimes flows like a perfectly orchestrated aria but sometimes Damian Lewis's prissy fastidiousness, the very eccentricity with which he endows Martin, seems to stand in their way."

Michael Billington, The Guardian


"The great thing about Ian Rickson's superb revival is that Sophie Okonedo, as Lewis's wife, reminds us that this is not simply a play about a lost individual but about two people staring into the abyss."

"Lewis plays Martin, an American architect at the peak of his fame... Eventually he confesses the source of his anxiety: he has fallen in love, spiritually and physically, with a goat."

"The revelation of Rickson's production, however, is that is as much a play about marriage as about erotic fixation. Lewis and Okonedo establish from the start a joshing intimacy that makes you believe they are a couple. They also show that, like George and Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, they have a concern with linguistic precision. "

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard


"Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo impress in this thoroughly strange play, first seen in 2002... Lewis delivers a performance of unsettling intensity as Martin, a prizewinning architect who's been chosen for a prestigious gig creating a model city in the American Midwest. "

"The play is ingeniously manipulative, and in Ian Rickson's handsome production it's a vivid portrait of a marriage under immense strain... Okonedo's interpretation of Stevie's anger is full-bodied, and Lewis expertly conveys the nitpicking earnestness of a man determined to make his wild infatuation seem reasonable. "

"But the writing, for all its interest in smashing taboos, isn't as dark as it needs to be and its wit is pretty resistible. While psychological acuity tends to be a feature of Albee's work, the characters here are too contrived, and the preoccupation with their syntax, a fascinating index of bitchiness in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, comes across as a tired tic. "

Natasha Tripney, The Stage


"Ian Rickson's production is a little stiff to begin with. But once Martin's secret is out of its pen, it never lets up."

"Once you accustom yourself to his nasal and slightly strained accent, what's most impressive about Damian Lewis' performance as Martin is the reasonableness with which he discusses the situation – the calmness of his manner, his determination that people see the world as he does. "

"Sophie Okonedo, as Stevie, arguably has the harder task. But her performance is rich, her emotional responses to the situation convincing; the sense of shock, anger, betrayal and pain palpable."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph


"This is now the third time Lewis has starred in a West End vehicle with a strong comic component. And it's high time someone – his agent? – told him stage-comedy isn't his strongest suit... he's gone for a very full American accent and such a hefty side-order of mannerisms that it almost capsizes the performance."

"I began, just, to believe the hurt in Okonedo's rage (the rage of all those betrayed by infidelity) and the final desolation of Albee's protagonist. I remain goat-stubborn in my belief, though, that this could be better."

The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? is currently booking at Theatre Royal Haymarket until 24 June.

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