NTLIVE: WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? Directed by James Macdonald with Imelda Staunton, Conleth Hill, Imogen Poots and James Treadaway.


I don’t know how to start writing about the NTLive screening of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. I don’t know how to condense the experience into words that form a review to explain why anyone who is interested in theatre cannot miss this production.

'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'

I could tell you that Imelda Staunton, from the Harry Potter movies, is Martha, but she is first Martha before anything else she has ever done and you will never, ever see a performance quite like this. I could tell you that Conleth Hill, who is Lord Varys in Game of Thrones, is George, but he is George first and forever now and he is heartbreakingly brilliant.

I could tell you that Edward Albee’s text is now more repulsively relevant than ever before, and speaks of the decline of the United States of America as if it were written yesterday, making it chilling and horrifying.

I could tell you that this incarnation of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, directed by James Macdonald, is the best one I have ever seen and possibly the first one I have properly understood.

I could refuse to tell you that it is about three hours long, for fear that it might put you off, and I could refuse to tell you how absolutely harrowing those hours are because this play is relentless, cruel and devastating.

There is a reason this play gets put on over and over again. There is a reason why directors and actors try to come to grips with its complexity, characters, relationships, symbolism and meaning. There is a reason to try it out, and to revisit it, but I am not sure there will be another attempt for a very long time because this production is so definitive, and radical.

You will need to be brave. You will need to take my word for it. You will need to see this production at all costs. It is a masterclass in acting, directing, scriptwriting. It is all you want from theatre.

What: Who’s Afriad of Virginia Woolf?

Where and when: Ster-Kinekor nouveau cinemas 1 to 2 July and 5 to 6 July

Book: Ster-Kinekor