Richard, Karen, and I saw *Everyone’s Fine With Virginia Woolf* on 6/8/18. It’s a new play by Kate Scelsa, a riff on Albee’s masterpiece *Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?* We were there not so much because we love the Albee (though we do), but because the play was being presented by The Elevator Repair Service. Karen and I saw their production of *Gatz* a few years ago, a six and a half-hour staged reading of *The Great Gatsby,* really and truly one of the most astonishing things I’ve seen in my life (which they’re doing again at NYU this winter, praise Jesus). We also saw them do *The Sound and the Fury,* an adaptation of a section of the Faulkner novel. Not nearly as brilliant as *Gatz,* but interesting. And I saw their wacko *Measure For Measure* last summer, which I enjoyed very much.
Let me preface my review by repeating what Karen said when we left the theater: “I’m looking forward to reading your review, so I can better understand what I just saw.” Ha! I’m not sure I’ll be much help, Karen, but I’ll give it the old college try.
It was hilarious, energetic, raucous, and baffling. As Karen put it, “I remember simultaneously laughing heartily and thinking, ‘This is terrible.’ “. It felt more like a sketch than like a play. It had a bit of the madcap quality of Charles Busch, but Busch’s plays are always beautifully constructed PLAYS, in the old-fashioned theatrical tradition. This was more slapdash, more amateur in its writing, but it was carried by the spirit of fun and the verve of the actors. It didn’t hurt that the show as 75 minutes long.
There were five characters: the four characters from the Albee, George and Martha (the older married couple) and Nick and Honey (the younger married couple), plus “Carmilla, a PhD candidate,” a vampire dissertator in a Sarah Lawrence sweatshirt. All of the actors were putting it right out there, but my favorite was Vin Knight as George. He was the most far out of any of them, so far over the top he could no longer see the top. He had a lovely moment near the end of the show, when he sat on the edge of the stage and sang “The Second Time Around,” wearing a bedazzled muumuu, the cord of his microphone thrown over his shoulder. Just like Mama used to do (as Liza would say).
Another favorite moment: the bulk of the play took place in George and Martha’s living room, but they did a pseudo set change by having Martha rotate one wall to transport her and Honey to the kitchen. They moved back into the living room at the end of the scene by having Martha put her hands through the set and vigorously rotate the wall again, as an expression of her suppressed female rage! A scream!
Richard’s favorite moment was when Nick threw himself onto the floor and read excerpts of his vampire fan fiction from a small notebook. The best thing about this was his position on the floor: he was on his stomach, propped up on his elbows a bit, and his feet up, crossed at the ankles. “Like a teenage girl,” as Richard said. Darling!
The show was littered with theatrical and literary references, adding to the collegiate quality - - not just Albee, but big bleeding hunks of Tennessee Williams, “O Captain, My Captain,” and that old floozy, Henrik Ibsen. Put it all in the blender, throw in the fruit you have on hand, and let’s call it a show.
Spoiler alert! The vampire dissertator brought George to hell at the end of the show. They were preceded onstage by a robot dragging a little red wagon with a blond baby doll in it wearing a sailor costume, surrounded by tongues of flame. The wagon had a sign that said HELL OR BUST. Who knows if it was supposed to mean anything, but it was hilarious. Actually, that’s a neat summary of the whole show.