Relationships get picked apart in 'Woolf'


From left, in front, Cindy Lasley plays Martha and Shamrock McShane plays George with, in back from left, Benjy Benefield as Nick and Carolyne Salt as Honey in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" which opens tonight at the Acrosstown Repertory Theater.

Brad McClenny / Special to the Sun
Published: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 12:10 p.m.

In Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" the characters George and Martha lash at each other in a way that is humorous, vicious and familiar to others in long-term relationships, including ultimately Nick and Honey, the young couple invited over to their house for a late-night get together.

Facts

'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'

What: Edward Albee's drama about one evening shared by two couples
When: Opens tonight and runs 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, through Jan. 30
Where: Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, 619 S. Main St., Gainesville
Tickets: $10, $8 for students, seniors and military.
Info: 538-5516 or www.acrosstown.org

In a new production opening tonight at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, their character traits may be even more cumulative than they appeared in the 1966 film adaptation. "The characters of Nick and Honey are much richer than the film version," says Sheila Bishop, director of the play. "One of the things I've been emphasizing is that it's an ensemble piece."

The play, which runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Jan. 30, is about a middle-aged married couple who bicker constantly. The husband is an assistant professor at a small, New England college; the wife is the daughter of the president of that college. The two invite over a younger couple they met at a party. Over the course of the play, they tear at each other and their guests, playing mean-spirited "games."

"Some of George and Martha's interactions happen to people in any long-term partnership," says Bishop, who graduated with a Bachelor's in Humanities from New College in 1995 and is working on her Master's in Digital Media Art at the University of Florida.

Often involved in avant-garde productions, Bishop said directing this production has allowed her to return to a more traditional theater experience. And the work accurately captures the games academic-types play with each other to get ahead, she says. "I have seen such games at many institutions of higher learning," Bishop says.

"It happens in the business world, it happens in the nonprofit world ... humans play power games with each other."

In Bishop's production, the minimal set is designed purposely not to distract from the acting by the cast, which features Shamrock McShane as George, Cindy Lasley as Martha, Benjy Benefield as Nick and Carolyne Salt as Honey.

"The set needs to work for the actors and the audience just enough ... the acting is what's important," Bishop say.

Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for students, seniors and military personnel, and are available at Book Gallery West or 30 minutes before the show at the theater, at 619 S. Main St.

The area around the intersection of South Main Street and Depot Avenue, which is just south of the theater, will be under construction during the run of the play. Access to businesses, including the Acrosstown, won't be affected, officials with the Florida Department of Transportation have said. Entrances to the theater are on South Main Street as well as off Southeast Sixth Avenue. Alternative parking also may be available.

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