Falling in love with a goat, in one architect’s experience, can stir some murky relationships.
For its final production of the semester, the Generic Theatre Company debuts the dark and complicated love story, “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?”
The bestiality-based saga centers around Martin, an aging but successful architect who falls in love with a grass-munching goat.
Martin’s amorous decisions, mainly his confrontation and embracement of social taboos, strains relationships within his family as the play sets out to challenge the limits placed on society about whom or what to love.
The play, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Albee, also incorporates word games and grammatically-based arguments as one man’s bizarre relationship unfolds.
The two lead characters, Martin and his wife, Stevie, exchange witty wordplay, bantering back and forth, while delving further into the emotional tragedy.
“Tragedy” itself comes from the Greek word for “goat song.” The name of the play refers to the song “Who is Sylvia,” sung in the Shakespearean comedy “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
“Everybody seems to think of love stories and romances as those of being intrinsically good. We always want to root for the innocent lovers,” the director Max Young-Jones said.
Young-Jones was inspired to bring the play to the stage while reading it in print. Drawn in by the recognizable characters and high stakes of the performance, Young-Jones felt it was the perfect play to do.
As the story unfolds, the audience is reminded that love is not always a beautiful thing.
“I really tried to highlight how the power of love can be a destructive force,” the sophomore added.
The set, Young-Jones explained, is predominantly red and white. While picking a black and white set could mimic the stark contrast in what is perceived as right or wrong, the colors were carefully chosen as not to paint one decision or the other as purely good or bad.
This is also the directorial debut at GW for Young-Jones. Unsurprisingly, the loaded play has been met with roadblocks around every turn.
“Much of the play is very physical and a lot of things in the original script couldn’t be done because of coding violations,” he said.
The script calls for physical fighting and the throwing and destruction of props, all of which Lisner Downstage could not accommodate.
Young-Jones said he was prohibited from having the actors throw glass, which he substituted for chairs and books.
Freshman Sarah Otis was also challenged throughout the production, but her struggles were tied to mastering her role as Martin’s betrayed wife, Stevie.
“This was something that required me to dig really deep and think about how I would react in these situations…it was difficult finding those emotions,” Otis said.
Cast members’ reactions tend to be as varied as the play’s mixed messages themselves.
“This play is about a conflicted man and how his family comes to terms with it,” junior Preston Reynolds said.
Reynolds plays the main character’s good friend, Ross.
Ross is the first to hear Martin’s unusual confession and plays a role in divulging the ugly secret. As the drama unfolds, the audience is positioned as the jury, forming their own opinions as to who is right and who has been wronged, who deserves guilt and who has been shamed.
“I would say this play is about the nature of human sexuality,” junior Michael Salgarolo, who plays the lead role, said. “Human sexuality is not nearly as defined or structured as we would like it to be.”