Face to Face with Virginia Woolf

Review by Max Berry

With a play such as “Virginia Woolf,” space is so important. Martha and George fighting to occupy the space in their own home, their collective anger really consuming the space and making it feel both vast and constricted, as well as Nick and Honey entering the space and immediately feeling like they are out of place, like something dangerous is happening. This tension of who belongs in the space is present throughout the entire play. So, when adapting it to Zoom, something must be done to either mimic that space, or change the operation of it. It seemed that this production struggled to navigate it’s online medium and meet one of these criteria. Don’t get me wrong, this medium is very new and figuring out what to do with it, period, is something we are all figuring out. However, with the vast number of productions that are taking steps to create or reject space, I would have liked to have seen some choices be made here. 

Despite this, the actors never appeared as though they weren’t in the same room. Each dealt with the limitation very well, I just would have liked to see some of the angry energy of the play present throughout the Zoom space.  

Vivian Cardone as Martha was phenomenal and a real joy to watch on stage. She handled the challenges of the space with ease as well as finding every opportunity to connect with her fellow actors, despite not being in the same space. Giving a very alive and nuanced performance she injected life into moments that might have otherwise fallen victim to the Zoom energy vacuum. Both Gabe Calleja and Samantha Yestrebsky also gave an engaging performance as Nick and Honey despite not having the same absurd energy of the space to play off of. Alex Commito as George began the play with a low energy that did not feel like it fit in the angry world of Virginia Woolf. And while he eventually was able to find his anger in the later acts, for most of the play it felt as though he wasn’t absorbing the energy that was being given to him by Cardone.  

The production was at its strongest towards the end of the play, as each actor had found their footing and was able to access the aggression necessary. Though in a play that is three acts and is three hours sitting in front of a computer, that’s something that should have been present from the beginning. Again, Cardone was the anchor of the piece, bringing the energy from the start and trying to pull the play as close to the real thing as possible but she alone, could not. 

 While this production of “Virginia Woolf” had many good moments, it seems that there was little attempt to truly adapt it to its platform. With a play as long as it is, it isn’t enough to simply recite it sitting in front of a camera, something must be done to make up for the lack of a space. And between the lack of special energy and the lack of energy with some of the actors, it came off as a staler version of the original play. I hope, if done again, they will explore all of the unique opportunities to really take the piece into the digital space. 

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” was written by Edward Albee 
It was produced on Zoom by Face to Face Films. 
Directed by Anthony Laura 
Featuring: Vivian Cardone, Alex Commito, Samantha Yestrebsky, Gabe Calleja, Sophia Licata 

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