I've seen some blistering performances over the years in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee's savage and magnificent marital drama about a long-married couple at perpetual war with each other, among them Billie Whitelaw and Patrick Stewart, Diana Rigg and David Suchet, and Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin. Read more
Edward Albee's Tony Award-winning play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? comes to the West End starring triple Olivier Award-winning actress Imelda Staunton in the role of Martha alongside Olivier Award-winner and Tony nominee Conleth Hill as George.
Produced by Sonia Friedman with direction by James Macdonald, it will run at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London's West End from 22 February 2017.
Imelda Staunton was last seen in the West End revival of Gypsy which originated at the Chichester Festival Theatre before transferring to the Savoy Theatre. Staunton received rave reviews for her portrayal of Mama Rose and won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opened on Broadway at the Billy Rose Theatre on 13 October 1962 with an original cast that featured Uta Hagen as Martha, Arthur Hillas George, Melinda Dillon as Honey and George Grizzard as Nick. The show was an overnight success and took home the 1963 Tony Award for Best Play as well as the 1962–63 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play. It was also selected for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Drama by the awarding jury, a decision that was overruled by the advisory committee who objected to the then-controversial language and themes, choosing instead to award no Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1963.
The play was revived on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre in 2005 starring Kathleen Turner as Martha and Bill Irwin as George, which transferred to the Apollo Theatre in the West End with the complete cast which ran from January to May 2006. A second Broadway revival was mounted at the Booth Theatre in 2012 starring Amy Morton and Tracy Letts, directed by Pam MacKinnon following a run at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is perhaps most fondly remembered for its 1966 film adaptation directed by Mike Nichols which starred Elizabeth Taylor as Martha, Richard Burton as George, George Segal as Nick and Sandy Dennis as Honey. Elizabeth Taylor went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress but Burton lost out to Paul Scofield in A Man For All Seasons.
This brand new production of Albee's seminal classic is one of the most explosive theatrical events of 2017.
Albee's play examines the breakdown of the marriage of a middle-aged couple living in American academia, George, an associate history professor and Martha, the daughter of the college president. Late one evening following a university faculty party, they invite a younger couple Nick and Honey to be their guests. They're unwittingly draw into George and Martha's bitter and explosive relationship and watch on as the pair spat and fire verbal abuse at each other throughout the evening. It's a profound and explosive example of theatre of the absurd mixed with powerful realism.