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Review: The Goat or, who is Sylvia? at Roslyn Packer Theatre

Review By Lauren Donikian

Some people are lucky to have a beautiful house, a loving supportive family and a job that rewards them for all their efforts, but what happens when they do something unforgiveable that could cost them all they have?

In the Tony Award-winning comedy written by American Playwright Edward Albee we gain an insight into the lives of Stevie and her husband Martin. A couple so perfect, so in sync that they have never strayed from their partner. That is... until Sylvia.

The curtains open and the scene is set in a living room. All action takes place in this space which includes a green couch, books shelves filled with books and indoor plants and art on the wall. There are fresh flowers, a stairway the leads to bedrooms and a hallway that leads to the front door. Jeremy Allen, set designer has created an incredibly simple and yet detailed space. It gives the actors permission to move as they explore each part of the stage throughout the performance. Some pieces placed on stage have a dual purpose, which is fun to witness. Music plays as each act finishes and keeps its audience in the mood to groove. Directed by Mitchell Butel, the Artistic Director of State Theatre Company in South Australia and starring Claudia Karvan and Nathan Page this 1 hour and 40-minute production will have you feeling strongly about love, confused about sexuality and unsure if you are laughing for the right reasons.

Claudia Karvan is an absolute dream, and I’m not just saying that because I have been in awe of her since ‘The Secret Life of Us’. Playing Stevie, Karvan explores many emotions throughout the play. Enthusiastic and cheeky at the beginning and completely shattered by the end. Her American accent never falters, she isn’t afraid to use her body to help express emotions, and I imagine she would make a great pitcher. Her and her co-star Nathan Page have great chemistry with quick exchanges that reflect the hallmark of a couple who have been together a long time. Page plays Martin, a scattered architect that can’t quite understand why the situation he has put himself and his family in is so bad. He plays this tortured character well, and at one point makes you feel empathy for Martin. It is a strange feeling, but you can feel he is broken.

To prove the connection of this couple there is an action that the pair both do at different times throughout the play. Karvan is seen moaning whilst leaning over chair, whilst Page moans on all fours. Emotionally they are in the same place, mourning a loss, just at different times. I’m not sure if this was a directorial decision, but I liked that it came back to such a strong emotional choice before the curtains closed.

Overall, I think this is an incredible production of a play that is as wild as it is brave. Using dark humour and the absurdity of the situation to explore love and loss is completely unexpected. As is the ending.

Image Credit: Prudence Upton


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