You might think it odd that my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by seeing a play about a marriage breakdown. If you knew us, you’d know that one of the reasons our relationship has lasted over 20 years is that we love theatre. We have shared many wonderful experiences that provide the cement of our marriage and theatre is right at the top of those shared experiences.
When you’ve been married for a long time, you understand one another so well. You reach the point where either you love each other’s ‘perfect imperfections’ or they drive you mad. In Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, it’s the latter. Imelda Staunton and Conleth Hill act like they really have been married for two decades. They tear one another apart in front of our eyes.
Even then, the brilliance of this play is that you can recognise their repartee as like any established marriage. They know each other. They anticipate what the other is going to say, they get both frightened and excited when the other goes off script. Okay, their marriage is falling apart but it is totally real as a married couple’s relationship.
I’m happy to say the relationship between my wife and myself is of the former kind but watching Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf was like seeing a Portrait Of Dorian Grey version of our marriage.
This play is a classic, well worth reviving and with a cast commensurate to it.
Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? is playing at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London until 27 May.