Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
NoHo Arts Center
Still, sadly what this suitably “good, better, best, bested” revival misses is in its own objectives within the mission of its fledgling company, which according to its founders’ program notes is to reveal the “disabled experience [that] has routinely gone unheard.” Colorblind casting has already gloriously and significantly come of age in the American theatre and so to now envision Charles Mee-style ability-blind casting, without regard to any limits or preconceptions based on the physical capabilities of its ensemble of players, is a stately step toward important artistic growth and development in the future of the theatrical artform.
Ironically, if Botsford and the producers had chosen to cast performers with disabilities in all four of Albee’s demanding roles, this fine remounting and much-anticipated new look at Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? could have ultimately been far more momentous. But by choosing to use—and publicize the use of—an able-bodied actor to play the studly Nick, they hint at opening an intriguing new conduit between the quartet of dysfunctional mid-century characters that never emerges—and thus regretfully becomes the elephant in the room.
Subtle physical acknowledgements and responses to the fact that George and Martha are disabled and Honey is in a wheelchair could have become tools as juicy for Botsford to explore as Martha’s latter-day sense of soon-abandoned decorum. As is, it seems as though the director and producers were a tad afraid of Virginia after all.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? plays through Mar. 1 at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Av., North Hollywood; for tickets, call 323.960.7711. www.thenohoartscenter.com