Be very, very afraid

Valley production of an Albee classic explores drinks and psych warfare.

By Jazmine Sanchez, Staff Writer

“The script has so much real heartache that it’s easy to find yourself in these characters,” says theater major Benjamin Hernandez, director of the recent Valley College production of Edward Albee’s classic play, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” “They are desperate to be loved but so afraid to accept it. I think at some point in our lives we each feel this way.”

The Valley production of the venerated, 1962 Tony-winning play (the 1966 film of which being one of the only movies to have its entire cast nominated for Oscars) ran for two October weekends in the Horseshoe Theater studio of the Theater Arts building.

Regarded as one of the cornerstone pieces of American theatre, it provided challenging opportunities for four Valley students to explore complex character dynamics.

“The play holds a permanent place in the worldwide dramatic repertory,” Theater professor Chris Coddington says. “It is always being revived all over the world, so it’s a play that we feel our students should know, and it provided an opportunity for a student director to tackle a mainstage show.”

In the play, a nightmare scenario traps a young couple (Nick and Honey) at the home of a middle-aged couple (George and Martha) for after-party drinks, but the cocktail of choice is psychological warfare. From beneath the emotional rubble, the characters’ desperate lives and tragedies scratch and claw to the surface.

“It was a life altering experience to work on this play,” says Hernandez. “Everyone from the faculty, actors, and crew all worked so hard. We just hope we did it justice and put on a good show for everyone who was able to see it.”

Under her armor of meanness, Martha (a captivating Kiki Bennet) rides a bottle as her means of escape from the issues she can’t face. As the lambs to the slaughter, Nick (Michael James) is a young biologist who doesn’t realize he’s in over his head and Honey is a naïf who laughs at life (Amy Lynn Perea, in a genuine-feeling portrayal). George, played by Valley student Matt McLaughlin (full disclosure: McLaughlin is a friend of this writer), is a history professor who comes off as witty and imprudent.

“While I have never experienced George’s exact circumstances, I had a good sense of what his needs and wants were,” McLaughlin said. “The biggest challenge for me was finding a way to make myself at least plausible as a man 20 years my senior.”

The Theater Arts Department’s next production will be the multiple-Tony-winning musical “In the Heights,” Nov. 14, 15, 21, and 22 at 8 p.m. in the Mainstage Theater. Visit www.lavctheater.com for more information.

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