Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hump the Hostess


Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962)
by Edward Albee

You're all flops.  I am the Earth Mother, and you're all flops.  I disgust me.  I pass my life in crummy, totally pointless infidelities ... would-be infidelities.  Hump the Hostess?  That's a laugh.  A bunch of boozed-up ... impotent lunk-heads.  Martha makes goo-goo eyes, and the lunk-heads grin, and roll their beautiful, beautiful eyes back, and grin some more, and Martha licks her chops, and the lunk-heads slap over to the bar to pick up a little courage, and they pick up a little courage, and they bounce back over to old Martha, who does a little dance for them, which heats them all up ... mentally ... and so they slap over to the bar again, and pick up a little more courage, and their wives and sweethearts stick their noses up in the air ... right through the ceiling, sometimes ... which sends the lunk-heads back to the soda fountain again where they fuel up some more, while Martha-poo sits there with her dress up over her head ... suffocating - you don't know how stuffy if is with your dress up over your head - suffocating!  Waiting for the lunk-heads; so finally they get their courage up ... but that's all, baby!  Oh my, there is sometimes some very nice potential, but, oh my!  My, my, my.  But that's how it is in civilized society.  All the gorgeous lunk-heads.  Poor babies.  There is only one man in my life who has ever ... made me happy.  Do you know that?  One!

Uncompromising, brutal, violent, passionate, unforgiving, relentless ... brilliant.  If Our Town is my favorite "classic" play of all time, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is certainly my favorite "contemporary classic."  This astonishing play, written by the amazing Edward Albee, is a total, full-out frontal assault on an audience ... and for that alone, I love it.  Albee redefined "absurdism," framing it in a frightening realism where nothing is ever quite what it seems. 

George and Martha, an aging ineffectual college professor and his boozy wife, invite young faculty newcomer Nick and his wife, Honey, for a blistering night of "fun and games."  Throughout the evening, the two couples verbally and emotionally abuse and attack one another in "games" such as "Get the Guests," "Hump the Hostess," and the final act of exorcism, "Bringing Up Baby."  It's impossible to fully describe the events. The extraordinarily faithful film version starring the smoldering Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and was the only film to be nominated in every major category.

This play falls into the category of "Roles-I'd-Love-to-Play-But-I'm-Not-Quite-Old-Enough-Yet!"  I would love to try my hand at George at some point, though I'm not completely sure my acting skills are up to the role ...

On a side note ... the college at which George and Nick teach is believed to be based on my alma mater, Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.  Albee attended Trinity in the 40's, but was expelled for skipping classes and refusing to attend compulsory chapel.  He apparently wrote Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? as a response to his expulsion.

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