Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – reviews of 'superb' revival

Clare Higgins thrills in Edward Albee's great America drama about a desperate marriage

Who's afraid of Virginia Wolf
(Image credit: Nobby Clark)

What you need to know

A revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has opened at Theatre Royal, Bath. Albee's 1962 drama is considered one of the great post-war American plays, and was adapted into an Oscar-winning 1966 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

The story takes place during the course of one night when George, a college professor, and his wife, Martha, invite a young faculty couple for drinks. As the alcohol flows, the guests are forced to watch and participate in George and Martha's cruel game-playing rituals.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Stars Tim Pigott-Smith as George and Clare Higgins as Martha. Runs until 5 July.

What the critics like

Adrian Noble's superb new production has "thrilling performances from Clare Higgins and Tim Pigott-Smith", says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. This picture of a desperate marriage is also wonderfully funny and at the end of the marathon slugfest one staggers out of the theatre feeling both bruised and elated.

"Tim Pigott-Smith and Clare Higgins land viciously funny linguistic blows on each other with a shocking, deadly aplomb in Adrian Noble's fine revival," says Paul Taylor in the Independent. Higgins is thrilling as Martha in "a raucous, no-holds-barred performance" in contrast to Pigott-Smith's downtrodden, fascinatingly tricky George.

Adrian Noble's fine production of one of the great American dramas is "played at full hilt" and must be destined for the West End, says Kris Hallet on What's On Stage. Higgins, one of our greatest actresses, has found a part to match alongside an impressive Piggott-Smith who takes us from hen pecked sadsack to detached, dead-eyed avenger.

What they don't like

"Tim Pigott-Smith can't always compete" with Higgins' commanding performance, but then neither can George, says Dominic Maxwell in The Times. And while the two actors are old for the roles, requiring a few tweaks to the script, they pull it and there is never a dull moment.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.