Arts Desk

Our Guide to Arena’s Albee Festival

Edward Albee

Depending on which source you believe, Edward Albee was either born in Virgina or in the District. Despite his uncertain provenance and the fact that he was adopted by a family in Westchester County, N.Y. a mere two weeks after his birth, D.C. still claims him as its own. Regardless of the legitimacy of this claim, the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, whose works include Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Goat or Who is Sylvia?, is more than deserving of his own festival at Arena Stage. Though Virginia Woolf and At Home at the Zoo each opened two weeks ago, the Albee celebration has really heated up this week, with seven additional events. With 30 different productions–almost one for each of his plays–you probably can't attend everything. We'll tell you what to see–and what to skip.

See it: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
With a cast featuring Tracy Letts–winner of his own Pulitzer for August: Osage County–and Amy Morton, our own Bob Mondello says although the play falters a bit in the final act, Letts' and Morton's unconventional takes on George and Martha make this production feel fresh.

Skip it: At Home at the Zoo
Mondello calls the first act of the production "flatfooted." Enough said.

See it: The Lady from Dubuque
Albee's won awards for many of his plays. This isn't one of them. But as a proud Midwesterner, I've got to put this on the See-it list.

Skip it: Box and Quotations from Mao Tse-Tung
Albee excels at portraying the intricacies of romantic relationships. He moves away from his specialty here with these more experimental, political pieces. However, under the direction of the talented Aaron Posner, perhaps this double bill will be accessible to a broader audience.

See it: Marriage Play
It could be the title of any number of Albee's works.

Skip it: Fragments: A Sit-Around
Featuring the done-to-death trope of members of a drama class engaging in acting exercises only to wind up bearing their souls.

See it:A Delicate Balance, Seascape, and Three Tall Women
Albee's Pulitzer-winning plays. Duh.

Photo: Sara Krulwich/The NewYork Times

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