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  • Brian Boone 5:00 pm on 2016/12/15 Permalink
    Tags: edward albee, seascape, the goat or who is sylvia, the play's the thing, , three tall women, ,   

    Remembering Edward Albee: 5 Plays to Read Now 

    Last September, Edward Albee passed away at the age of 88. Among the last great major American playwrights of the 20th century, he won three Pulitzer Prizes for his dramas, which often dealt with the falsities of modern life and the lies we all tell ourselves to get by. Okay, that sounds pretty bleak. And sure, while his plays often ended with relationships in shambles, they were also really funny, and as he got older and evolved as a writer, they became quite strange. At any rate, his plays don’t have to be seen to be enjoyed—here are some eminently readable works by the late, great Edward Albee.

    Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962)
    Before there was “comedy of discomfort” as exemplified by Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Office, there was drama of the discomfort. And Albee’s smash hit from 1962 is about as uncomfortable as it gets. Think of every dinner party you’ve ever been to when the hosts start passive-aggressively (or aggressively) sniping at each other as the booze begins to flow. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? depicts that kind of an evening, as professor George and his wife Martha invite a young colleague and his wife over for dinner. As the night wears on, George and Martha’s marriage disintegrates as they inappropriately flirt with their guests, drink way too much, and flat out tell each other that they’ve ruined each other’s lives. (Elizabeth Taylor won an Oscar for her masterful portrayal of Martha in the 1966 film version.)

    A Delicate Balance (1966)
    That title? A bit of a spoiler. Albee won his first Pulitzer Prize for another up-close-and-personal criticisms of marriage and traditional family structures. A study in contrasts, a well-to-do couple named Tobias and Agnes (along with Agnes’s perpetually drunk and funny sister Claire) find their lives invaded by intruders: their friends Harry and Edna, escaping some kind of horrible thing that remains unnamed. (Is it the future? Yeah, it’s probably the future.) Along for the invasion of privacy and sanity is Agnes and Tobias’s daughter, seeking refuge after her fourth divorce.

    Seascape (1975)
    Seascape features something one doesn’t usually find in the legitimate theater: sea creatures. However, it’s an Edward Albee play, so that’s offset by lots of insight about relationships. Once again, Albee examines a marriage in disarray: Nancy and Charles are at retirement age and take a trip to the beach to discuss their uneasy journey forward. And then they’re joined by two humanoid lizards who crawled out of the ocean because they were also seeking a change. (Albee took home another Pulitzer for this one.)

    Three Tall Women (1991)
    While Albee generally wrote in a linear, realistic style, Three Tall Women offers a shift to a more experimental, even expressionistic style. It’s the surreal story of “A,” a 90-year-old woman reflecting on her life and choices before Alzheimer’s ravages her memory. Her caretaker is “B,” who is A at 52-years-old. The other major character is “C,” who is “A” and “B” and age 26 and is in A’s room on behalf of A’s attorney so she can sign some paperwork. While a lovely narrative does unfold, Three Tall Women reads more like poetry than a play script.

    The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (2000)
    This pitch-black comedy is about a stately, upper-middle-class family whose liberal politics are pushed to the limits when Martin decides to leave his wife Stevie for his lover…a goat named Sylvia. It’s easily the only play about a man who marries a goat to ever win the Tony Award for Best Play or be named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

    What is your favorite play by Edward Albee?

    The post Remembering Edward Albee: 5 Plays to Read Now appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Rebecca Jane Stokes 7:00 pm on 2014/07/14 Permalink
    Tags: , , , edward albee, , , , i capture the castle, , , , , louisa may alcotte, , , revolutionary road, richard yates, , , the host, , , ,   

    10 Characters Who Ended Up With The Wrong People 

    Little Women

    Very often we turn to books for the satisfaction of a love story well told. If it’s done right, we get all swoony, clutch the tomes to our winsome bosoms (or winsome pectorals, as the case may be), and sigh over the perfection and delicious unreality of a fictional love affair. I may really dig a dude in a real life, but him spontaneously being all Edward Fairfax Rochester and telling me about an invisible cord connecting our ribs is, I can almost guarantee, never going to happen.

    To that end, I’ve always had a soft spot for books where the “perfect love story” doesn’t turn out to be so perfect after all. I know I’m not alone in this. Every reader gets a wonderful shiver of schadenfreude each time a pairing between characters goes south and goes south HARD. Here are 10 characters who ended up with absolutely the wrong people:

    1. Jo March and Professor Bhaer (Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott)
    Okay, I can feel the masses ready to string me up on high for this one, but I’m standing by it. Oh sure, Jo and the Professor are a sweet, modern couple and I kind of dig them, and everybody knows accents are sexy, but none of this matters because LAURIE. He loved Jo most of his life, and you know the feeling was mutual. That said, while I always wanted to be a Jo, I am probably closer to being an Amy, so I guess I should be grateful.

    2. Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)
    A girl’s gotta eat, BUT AT WHAT COST? Marriage to a pompous, socially climbing, sniveling parson = not worth it. I want an alternative version of P&P where Charlotte takes up a life walking the streets of London solving crimes while deep undercover as a prostitute. It would be all about female empowerment and also Jack the Ripper.

    3. Cassandra Mortmain (I Capture The Castle, by Dodie Smith)
    To be fair, there’s something admirable and noble and sweet and real about our narrator Cassandra ending up on her own and learning that a broken heart doesn’t mean the end of love altogether. Still, when a good chunk of a novel has been dedicated to Cassandra falling for her sister’s then-fiance, you can’t help but feel slightly cheated by the ending.

    4. Harry, Hermione, and Ron (The Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling) 
    I tend to be a Hermione and Ron apologist, but if even J. K. Rowling admits that it should have been Harry and Hermione, then who are we mere plebes to argue with her wisdom?

    5. Frank and April Wheeler (Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates)
    Frank and April Wheeler’s totally borked dynamic eventually leads to disasters we won’t discuss here, because spoilers. Frank and April clearly weren’t meant to be together, or if they were, the timing was off and the repressive culture of the age shot their union in the foot before it even had a chance to trot. One could argue that without their cataclysmic pairing the book wouldn’t exist, to which I respond: DON’T CARE TOO DEPRESSING.

    6. Romeo and Juliet (Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare)
    They literally die because they are mad at their parents. Are they smitten with each other? Totally. But are they also infants with poor impulse control? Oh very much so.

    7. George and Martha: (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, by Edward Albee)
    Just a word of wisdom for the collected masses reading this post—if you and your partner both have significant drinking problems and a shared semi-delusion of a child, it’s best to get out before one of you starts breaking the furniture, you dig?

    8. Charles and Camilla (The Secret History, by Donna Tartt)
    Fraternal twins Charles and Camilla take a beyond warped page from George R.R. Martin’s books when it comes to how twins feel about each other. In their pants. No, just…no.

    9. Lolita and Humbert: (Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov)
    I have one word for you, and it rhymes with shmedophilia. Also, everybody dies. *Drops mic, walks away, sassy and triumphant*

    10. Wanda and Ian: (The Host, by Stephenie Meyer)
    Look, I get that love is about more than just the physical body, but the body is a big part of it—especially at first. So forgive me if I give Wanda and Ian the side-eye. We get it Wanda, your love for Ian surpasses the physical. Doesn’t erase the fact that you are making out with him using basically a corpse’s mouth. Barf.

    What fictional characters do you think ended up with the wrong people?

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