The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia Asks “What Is Love?”

March 30, 2019

In The Goat, architect Martin Gray has fallen in love again. He still loves his wife Stevie deeply, but has found a profound love with Sylvia, whom he met in the country. The nature of this relationship brings about a frank discourse on love. The show presents no answers, but does offer audience members lots about which they can both think and laugh. The show seems a perfect piece for SVSU’s StudioXP, designed to emphasize a director’s work with the “comprehension, communication, time, energy and ensemble artistry” to bring shows to the stage.

 

The Goat begins with Martin, a 50-year old award-winning architect, preparing for an interview hosted by his best friend, Ross Tuttle. After the interview falls apart, the distracted Gray reveals his affair with Sylvia. The affair disgusts Ross so much, he writes a letter to Stevie revealing the infidelity. During the blow-up with Stevie, Martin struggles to explain his love for both Sylvia and his wife. The show reaches its brutal and shocking end with Martin, Ross, Stevie, and son, Billy, all on stage confronted with their “crimes.”

 

Director Joe Green brought together a cast that shows an appreciation for the journey on which they took their audience members. They didn’t light-step around difficult subjects and dealt with the matters in a forthright manner. There is some unmotivated movement and blocking that seems incongruous with the emotional moment. Secrets revealed over great distances defy the intimate nature of the exchange and when other moments may have benefitted from physical distance, characters were brought closer together. Otherwise, Green shows a detailed knowledge of the script in his production. Green also brings powerful moments that stay with audience members.

 

Spencer Beyerlein does well to play the conflicted and often distracted Martin. He does well in avoiding what could be an easy fall into “playing ashamed” and portrays a man coming to terms with two loves that he deems normal. Beyerlein also does an effective job confronting Martin’s own biases when dealing with his son’s sexuality.

 

Lucas Inman as Billy brings energy to the show. Inman is at his best when in direct conflict with Martin. He does a good job bringing pace to scenes that may otherwise lag. His outbursts of vulgarities bring needed humor to tense moments. When Billy is on the floor at the end, more confused than ever, he has to manage a delicate balance between staying in character and pulling focus, a task pulled off to mixed success.

 

Stevie Gray, played with intensity and focus by Aubree Harrell, must balance her own inner conflict between repulsion and wanting to hear the truth. Harrell successfully navigates those treacherous waters. Hers is the performance that has lasted with me the longest. Her confrontation with Martin could benefit from tighter pacing.

 

Jake Fultz as the self-righteous Ross Tuttle does well to set the stage for the affair. He continues a failing interview with burgeoning frustration until he cuts it off, leading to the revelation of the affair. He does a good job staying active in the scene when the focus is not on him.

 

The scenic design by Jacob Steinacker provided a functional, home-y, and warm set. Character transformations were greatly enhanced by the choices of the hair and makeup design of Abby Burgess. Ari Whisman provided an appropriate and appealing costume design. Kayley Jozefiak presented an functional light plot with an interesting window and focus for the closing moment of the play. In this show, for moments that will become clear to audience-goers, a special recognition goes to Conner Wieland for his props.

 

The limited engagement offers little time for prospective play-goers to see this 2002 Tony Award winner. The final performance is Saturday, March 30 at 7:30pm in the SVSU blackbox.  Tickets are available at the box office or https://www.svsu.edu/theatre/showschedule/.

 

 

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