Monday, June 23, 2014

The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

Playwright:  Edward Albee 
Venue:  Springs Ensemble Theatre, 1903 East Cache La Poudre Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80909.
Running Time:  95 minutes (no intermission).
Date of Performance:  Sunday, June 22, 2014 

Never having seen Albee's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia (hereafter referred to as The Goat), I wasn't sure what to expect.  
Now I know.  
For those who may be similarly unfamiliar with The Goat, be forewarned.  It is very INTENSESprings Ensemble Theater (hereafter referred to as SET) may want to consider providing seat belts and crash helmets to the audience. It should come with a WARNING to sit down, buckle up, and keep your arms inside the ride at all times.  The Goat is disturbing, challenging, frightening, repulsive, and unquestionably the very best theater I have seen in a very long time.
Continuing with the warning theme, the script contains abundant adult language and adult content, including references to incest, bestiality, and pedophilia.  Many would find the themes in The Goat repugnant.  If you might be one of those troubled by these topics, read no further. 
I won't give away the details of the plot, as those details are crucial to the intensity of the performance.  For the details, I suggest that you buy a ticket as soon as possible and discover them just as I did, sitting in a small room with four very talented actors doing a "bang up" job with a strange, but wonderful, script. 
What I can say is that there is love, loss, and heartbreak of a most unusual type.  The married couple, Martin and his wife Stevie, are happy and successful until Martin is outed by his friend Ross; it turns out he's having an affair.  An affair with a goat.  And Martin is in love with Sylvia...his goat friend.  
If you've ever had a relationship go bad on you, The Goat might make you feel better.  No doubt, the circumstances of your breakup were better than those visited upon Stevie.  After all, if your competition is another woman, it doesn't seem so bad.  But a goat?  A GOAT?
L-R Amy Brooks (Stevie), Steve Emily (Martin), Christian O'Shaughnessy (Billy)
As I mentioned, there are four fine actors here at the top of their game.  Steve Emily (Martin) is central, locked in, and a joy to watch.  He may not want The Goat on his resume, since he's a very credible practitioner of bestiality, incest, and perhaps pedophilia here.  Regardless, he veers from dementia to barnyard lust to a full on mouth kiss with his teenage son, all with a "why is everybody picking on me" attitude.  It truly is a masterful performance.
Amy Brooks' performance (Stevie) is dazzling, as is every costume Emory John Collinson puts on her, including the blood splattered one at the end.  She lets go of a long, deep primal scream as she tries, in vain, to process what is happening to her husband and her marriage.  
Billy (Christian O'Shaughnessy), Stevie and Martin's gay son, is understandably distressed about the events.  Still, he loves his parents, despite their flaws.  O'Shaughnessy (who bears a striking resemblance to Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong) is a convincing gay teenager.  He also rocks Emory John Collinson's costumes, looking like he just stepped off a photo shoot set for GQ magazine.
Ross (Tom Auclair) has the smallest role in terms of lines, but he has a very critical role as the one who betrays Martin and spills the dirty secrets.  Auclair wants us to believe he had no choice, and we almost do believe that...but not quite.  Which is exactly what Albee wants.
Director Max Ferguson has assembled a marvelous cast on a marvelous set that he uses and abuses in every possible way.  He takes the characters and the audience on a roller coaster ride while watching a script driven train wreck on the stage.  
The Goat at SET is unforgettable theater.  It is the best production I have seen yet at SET.  Anyone who enjoys the edgiest, the gutsiest, and the most provocative and challenging drama in Colorado should try to get a ticket.  If you can.  
You won't regret it, and you'll not forget it.

This show is suitable for adults only, and even then it is not for ALL adults.  The content is strictly for open minded persons who are willing to have their sensitivities challenged.  
This show closes on June 29, 2014. 

Pre or post show dining suggestion:  
Phantom Canyon Brewing Company, 2 E. Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs.  Happy Hour 3:00-600 PM, and 10:00 PM to close (pints for $2.75, pitchers $10.00).  Full selection of handcrafted beers brewed on premises.  It's a fifteen minute drive to/from the theater, so plan accordingly.  Street parking (meters and pay lots).  Menus here.

Tickets HERE.
Photo CreditsSprings Ensemble Theatre.
Director:  Max Ferguson
Set Design: June Scott Barfield
Lighting Design:  Jeremiah Miller
Costume Design:  Emory John Collinson
Sound Design:  Pat Collins

Martin:  Steve Emily
Stevie:  Amy Brooks
Ross:  Tom Auclair

Billy:  Christian O'Shaughnessy


  1. Thanks for the kind words - we're glad you enjoyed the show! One quick correction: the costumer's name is Emory John Collinson.

    1. Steve: Humble apologies. I was made aware of this error yesterday, and tried to edit from my mobile phone. I thought it had been fixed. It wasn't. Thanks for letting me know. Got it corrected first thing this morning.

      Great performance Sunday afternoon. Six of us went out to dinner after the show, and it was the only thing we talked about. We never did settle on exactly what Albee was trying to do here; it's a brilliant script but the takeaway is kind of obscure. That's probably what he was shooting for though. Confront our senses/values, and provoke some introspection.

      Thanks again for helping me get the corrections done.


    2. Hello, Bill, I echo Steve with heart-felt thanks for your gracious and generous review. It was a pleasure having you and your cohorts in the house, and I'm glad it sparked head-scratching conversation -- as theater should. All the best, Amy B.

    3. Thanks Amy. We are indeed, cohorts. Traveling band of Henry Judges and theater fans of the first order.

    4. Sounds like good fun! We hope to entertain you again! Warmest regards, Amy