More anything else, says local theatre director Alix Reynolds, “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?” is a comedy “with a light, funny feel.”
Look deeper and you’ll find themes of bestiality, incest and infidelity.
The play, written by Edward Albee, was nominated for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2002 and has featured, in its Broadway version, actors like Sally Field and Bill Pullman.
Using a fairly minimal set, “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?” sees Martin, husband, father and award-winning architect, confess to his best friend that he has fallen in love with — and is having sex with — a goat.
The friend tells Stevie, Martin’s wife, and the rest is a tragi-comedy.
Reynolds, of Joint Productions, is bringing the play to the Barbara Barrett Theatre at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre this month, with a cast that includes Glenn Gaulton as Martin and Megan Jones as Stevie. Sim Marshall plays their son, Billy, while David Hallett plays Ross, the best friend.
“The great thing about it is even though the characters are in a tense situation, they really find a lot of humour in it, even though it’s potentially the worst moment of their lives,” Reynolds says.
Though it’s an adult-only show with some heavy themes, Reynolds insists Albee’s writing has gone far to lighten the tone.
“It comes at this dark subject matter in a nice way,” she says of the play. “The characters are nice and really relatable and the play is accessible, even though it’s dark.
“From the moment (Stevie) finds out about the situation, there’s less of a focus on what (Martin) is doing and it becomes more about his family, and how his actions don’t just affect him, but his family, too.”
“The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?” is the first major directorial debut for Reynolds, who graduated from MUN’s Performance and Communications Media diploma program.
She was drawn to the script, she says, because of its small cast, simplicity when it comes to production, and clever writing.
Audience members are challenged to question their morality, she explains, and the limits of a society that is presumed liberal.
“The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?” will play at the Barbara Barrett Theatre (formerly the Basement Theatre) Nov. 21-25 at 8 p.m., with a pay-what-you-can matinee at 2 p.m. on the 24th.
Tickets are $22 ($17 for students and seniors) and are available at the Arts and Culture Centre box office, by calling 729-3900, or online at www.artsandculturecentre.com.
The play is restricted to audience members aged 18 and older.