Sunday, September 30, 2018

Review of Interrobang Theatre Project's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? It was written by Edward Albee and directed by James Yost. It was about a man named Martin (Tom Jansson) who is an architect and lives with his wife Stevie (Elana Elyce) and child Billy (Ryan Liddell) in a big home in the suburbs. One day when Martin is doing an interview, he opens up to his best friend Ross (Armando Reyes) and tells him he is having an affair with a goat named Sylvia. That's who Sylvia is, if you were wondering. The play is about family, love, pain, and what counts as perversity. I think this is a really interesting and mind-boggling show. I was laughing a lot during this show--sort of uncomfortably, but still laughing. And I've been thinking about it and what it has to say about relationships a lot since.

I think the theme of this show is not really bestiality, though that might seem like what it is at first glance. The theme is cheating. If you are being cheated on, it can seem like the other person your partner is with isn't even human. The feeling of being betrayed by someone you trust so deeply makes it not even matter if the other person is human or not. I think the actor who played Stevie did a beautiful job of portraying that feeling. It is a very complex emotion because you still have to see how much Stevie loves Martin even though he is treating her like crap. A lot of people who are cheating on their spouses compartmentalize their lives so that one part can be about loving their family and another part can be about sleeping with someone else. Martin really still loves Stevie, but he is just being an idiot because being a partner is about making someone your full devoted priority, and not just making a compartment for them. People who are in polyamorous relationships agree to certain terms and know what they are getting into. But Martin and Stevie don't have that kind of relationship, and it is really hard to make that shift, especially if only one person wants it. The ridiculousness of suggesting, "I love you but I want to sleep with other people" is emphasized because the "person" he wants to sleep with is a goat.

I think this show was even more devastating because of the happiness that you see Stevie and Martin share at the beginning of the play. They joke around together and flirt and altogether just seem to be a really good couple. But then a few days later their whole relationship falls apart because of a goat. She starts throwing plates and antiques and artifacts all over the house. She doesn't really scream, she just breaks things. He has broken something important to her--their marriage and her heart--so she breaks things important to him.

I think it is interesting how Ross--who has cheated on his wife numerous time and doesn't seem to love her anymore--we don't seem to think of as the worst guy in the show. Having sex with a goat just overrules all that. But it is hard to say if the fact that Martin still loves his wife actually makes him better. Ross does tell Stevie the truth and Martin doesn't. But it seems strange that Ross doesn't tell his own wife about his own excursions if he is so committed to telling the truth. It is a very confusing play for deciding who is immoral because everyone makes rash decisions. It is not a simple play. There is not a right or a wrong or a good or a bad. It is very mind-boggling to figure out what the play wants you to think, but I like that about the play. I like when shows make you think, make you question, and try to understand the play better, I think this show did that very well.

People who would like this show are people who like questioning your own moral compass, plays about broken families, and broken plates. I think people should go see this show. It is a very thought-provoking experience with remarkable performances by the lead actors. I really liked it.

Photos: Emily Schwartz

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