Testing the limits of normalcy and attraction
McGill’s TNC takes on The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?
By Rebecca Ugolini
This month, McGill’s English-department student drama group Tuesday Night Café Theatre continues Montreal’s recent Equus-fuelled trend of plays which push the boundaries of the sexually normative with a staging of Edward Albee’s 2002 play The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?
The story of Martin, a 50-year-old architect whose family is mortified to discover he has fallen in love—and in lust—with a goat, Albee’s script is psychologically complex and morally ambiguous. Although Albee’s rapid-fire dialogue eventually becomes tedious rather than witty, TNC’s cast and crew do an excellent job staging such an ambitious project.
Set designers Peter Farrell and Vinca Merriman interestingly apply the eye-catching colour scheme of black, white, and red to a play of moral greys
Alex Gravenstein shuffles about the stage with all the posturing and expressions of the nervous, forgetful Martin, and the full comedy of his character emerges when he interacts with newscaster and long-time friend Ross, portrayed as judgemental but ultimately good-hearted by the talented Andrew Cameron. When Martin confides in Ross about his affair with Sylvia the goat, Ross relays the information by letter to Martin’s wife, inflaming Stevie’s rage and allowing actress Leah Sutton to convincingly push her character to the limit of reason and emotional heartbreak. As Martin and Stevie’s 17-year old son Billy, played to great effect by the talented Anna Gordon, looks on, the couple’s marriage falls apart, calling into question themes of fidelity and normalcy.
Set designers Peter Farrell and Vinca Merriman interestingly apply the eye-catching colour scheme of black, white, and red to a play of moral greys, although the set would have benefitted from including less cluttering household elements which contributed little to the overall effect.
Just as it posits no moral right or wrong, The Goat has no central theme, but allows the viewer to think critically and compassionately about the issues it raises. Mid-life crises, bestiality, incest, marital dysfunction, friendship: Albee’s script runs the gamut, and McGill’s TNC does it justice with this thought-provoking staging.