The array of theater this fall runs the usual entertainment-to-edification gamut of comedies and tragedies, but 2nd Story Theatre is packing both into their opener, Edward Albee's THE GOAT, OR WHO IS SYLVIA? (September 21-October 2).
ALL IN THE FAMILY Abbey Siegworth, Christie Vela, Angela Brazil, and Brian McEleney (clockwise from lower left) in Trinity Rep’s King Lear.
Its director, Ed Shea, points out that the origin of the word tragedy is "goat song" in Greek. "I think that Albee is playing with that fact," he observes. "As with all tragedy, there is a feeling throughout for the audience — a nagging suspicion that 'this can't possibly end well,' and indeed it doesn't. It's a tragic, heartbreaking ending with one of the most cathartic dénouements of any play that I've ever encountered."
As far as Shea can see, the 2002 play about a middle-aged man who falls in carnal and emotional love with a goat is "the right-handed bookend" to Albee's shattering Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which was a sort of apocalyptic platonic ideal of marital strife.
"The statements made in The Goat, and the questions raised, are as universal, as complex, as profound as anything in Virginia Woolf, and yet it is said in a third of the time with a third of the words," Shea observes. "If Albee learned anything in 50 years of playwriting, he learned that brevity is not only the soul of wit, but that it might well be the soul of drama."
Shea usually directs the plays at the theater he co-founded and heads, having acted in only five of the 18 productions there in the last two years. But Mark Peckham will direct Shea this time around.
"Every so often I come upon a play — and there aren't many — that when I read it or see it, gets the 'I want to do that role' juices flowing," he notes. "The Goat was one of those plays."
But bestiality is not your run-of-the-mill stage subject.
"I always like to start off the season with something edgy, a little bit controversial," Shea continues. "It's a great way to come out of the gate. I Am My Own Wife, Kimberly Akimbo, Gross Indecency, plays of that type. Our audience last year showed throughout the season that they are up to the challenge of sophisticated material."
Wrapping up the year for 2nd Story will be J.B. Priestley's AN INSPECTOR CALLS (at the Bristol Courthouse November 2-December 2) and Neil Simon's LOST IN YONKERS (November 16-December 16).
Trinity Repertory Company is taking on the challenge of Shakespeare's formidable KING LEAR (September 13-October 21), a co-production with the Dallas Theater Center. Trinity veteran Brian McEleney will be howling in the wind as the grizzled patriarch with ungrateful daughters, directed by DTC artistic director Kevin Moriarty. The female psyche will be further unpacked in Sarah Treem's THE HOW AND WHY, directed by Shana Gozansky (November 29-December 29), as an older and a younger woman debate evolution.
Trinity actor Fred Sullivan Jr. will perform for the first time at the Gamm, portraying the excitable, innovative artist Mark Rothko in RED (November 8-December 16); Tony Estrella will direct the Tony Award-winning John Logan play. Estrella is also directing Amy Herzog's AFTER THE REVOLUTION, about a radical family coming to terms with revelations about a blacklisted grandfather (September 13-October 14).