Los Angeles Theater Review: THE GOAT, OR WHO IS SYLVIA? (Chance Theater in Anaheim)

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by Tony Frankel on October 13, 2010

in Theater-Los Angeles


[Reviewer calls his mom:] “Hey, Mom! I just saw Edward Albee’s The Goat at The Chance Theater in Anaheim Hills. The body of work this company has produced in the last year is seminal to the small theatre scene in Los Angeles. OK, Ma, Los Angeles adjacent.

“What is it about? Welllllll, look, mom, the story is that a middle-aged architect has an affair that threatens to destroy his family and everything he’s worked for, including an international prize for architecture. Why is it called The Goat? Well, because, um…OK, listen, he has an affair with a goat. Well, not just an affair. He’s actually in love with a goat, which he has named Sylvia.”

[Silence. Reviewer redials the phone.]

The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?

“Don’t hang up, Mom! Listen, that’s the story, but, as is the case with great playwriting, it’s not about the goat. It’s about the inexplicable labyrinth of human sexuality and what constitutes a true, loving family and friendship; it’s about choices we make that seem destined to us by fate, and the ramifications that it has to the choices we already made!

The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?“No, I’m not excited about sex with a goat. Stop it. I’m thrilled because Albee uses racy subject matter to make us think about the bigger issues that confront each one of us. Of course it is provocative, but it’s quite funny. And just when you think that the situation is shocking, wait until you see how the architect’s friend, wife and son deal with this state of affairs…so to speak.

“Stop it, Mom. No, the Chance is not going to do the musical Cats. Besides, you know I hate that musical. Because it’s only about CATS! This play covers universal themes that allow us to ponder the human condition – that’s why theatre was invented. (Although, a musical about people having affairs with cats…now that’s fascinating.) And the fact that this show is being produced behind the Orange Curtain shows how brave the Chance Theater is. Oh, come on, you know that ‘behind the Orange Curtain’ means ‘in Orange County.’

“And the set! Bradley Kaye has constructed a home that looks like an architect had planned it himself. The subtle lighting design by Jeff Brewer has astounding: cool blues shading the hallway near the top of the show; then they morph into hot reds as the play progresses. Anthony Tran’s costumes are smart and classy, just like the characters that wear them.

The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?

“The standout performance belongs to Karen Webster as Stevie, the wife of architect Martin. The way she bounces inner turmoil around; from shock to sympathy to humor to anger; at once tremulous and steady. Kevin Tobias offers a naturalistic approach to their gay teenage son, Billy, and Mike Martin as the family friend Ross adds a hint of seediness that helps us wonder what it means to be a true friend. Jonathon Lamer has played Martin before and, even though he had a good hold on the character, appeared more nonplussed than in a state of urgency. There were moments that should have been crackling with electricity and Mr. Lamer chose introspective and cool, which belabored the arc of the play at times.

“This may have been the choice of director Marya Mazor to slow down the pace somewhat, but she must be credited with the design aspect and the ultimate satisfaction you will get from this show.

“Jeez, Mom…yes there is bestiality and homosexuality. I know you can handle it. You’re going to see it? Fantastic! This will be a case where you really do get my goat.”

photos by Doug Catiller, True Image Studio

The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?
Chance Theater
5522 E. La Palma Ave in Anaheim
ends on October 24, 2010
for tickets, call call 714.777.3033 or visit Chance Theater

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