Red Koi Reviews

See what I've seen, hear what I've heard

The Goat, or who is Sylvia?

Posted by redkoireviews on 23/04/2006

The GoatThis play is grim, dark and confronting. It’s the first play by Company B I’ve seen for a long time, and it brought back the gravity of live acting that the silver screen can never capture.

It’s the story of Martin and his wife Stevie. They are the perfect people in a perfect marriage, and have lived a life without scars or trauma. Then Martin falls in love with Sylvia, and the whole thing shatters like crystal.

I can’t go into more detail without revealing some plot and some shock, so proceed with caution before you read any further.

So who is Sylvia? How can affair be that shocking? well, because Sylvia is a goat. That’s why. I’ve never come across any other play or art that deals with one of the last taboos of western society: Bestiality.

It handles a really difficult issue pretty well, revealing the full blast o the impact such an explosion has on anyone close to it. You could leave hating any of the characters: Martin for his destruction of Stevie, Stevie for her extreme retribution, or Ross (Martins friend) for his treason. But you don’t. The play leaves you conflicted about the characters even though you know some deserve outright condemnation.

Once you get beyond the sheer shock value, the play carves up love and lust into degrees you normally wouldn’t ever bring to mind. Martin claims he loves the goat, but his recollection of their first meeting was of lust. Is his claim to love just a rationalisation of his immoral lust?

The playwright Edward Albee could have tried to present a moral position to the audience: Sexual morality is relative, a societal construction, or that there is an absolute, clear line past which sexual behaviour is only able to be condemned unconditionally. But instead, he leaves the audience rattled and somewhat confused. I left thinking that Martin’s decision to act on his impulse and fuck a goat is like someones decision to act on an impulse to punch someone we hate. Even if the impulse is an accident, something that just happens in a moment, it’s still our decision to act on it.

However, Stevie’s actions after finding out are also disturbing. Her’s are less an impulse, more calculated at inflicting maximum damage. Her slaughter of the goat Martin loves is brutally violent in a physical and emotional way, and really is the most extreme form of retribution she could have conceived. Understandable in the eyes of the audience, but 110% hatred.

I could never say i ‘liked’ this play. It’s just not that kind of play. But it was what theatre should be about: challenging and moving. It was very well directed and acted.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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One Response to “The Goat, or who is Sylvia?”

  1. chatwyn said

    I’m love this great website. Many thanks guy

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