The Goat is the week 2 Corpus Main Johannes Hjorth

“Get ready for your socks to be absolutely knocked off,” Sophie Scott (Assistant-Director) greets me as I sit in for a run through. Within ten minutes, a painting has been smashed, chairs are upturned, the stage is entirely covered in dead petals, and the line, “You’re fucking a Goat?! Jesus Christ…!” has been and gone. Edward Albee’s award-winning, absurdist play (2002) asks where - and why - we draw the limits on sexuality.

“There’s a real sympathy we get for everyone, even Martin… which is weird cos of all the goat sex.”

The original Greek meaning of the word tragedy is “goat-song,” the internet tells me, and Sophie compares this play to the classic ‘tragic’ mold - shocking events happening off-stage; reactions happening on stage; a hero brought down by a deep personal flaw. The drama takes place over three scenes. Gabriel Wheble plays Martin, an architect at the top of his field. Having recently won a valuable contract and a prestigious award, we await the tragic fall which inevitably comes after his confession. His wife, Stevie, and son, Billy, see their comfortable lives unravel as the consequences for them all are fought out at home. As the three are brought down, Martin reflects on his sin - crossing the line of sexual taboo. The suffering inflicted on the family is immense and epic. “Notes toward a definition of tragedy” is, interestingly, the subtitle of the play.

Director Ben Vince and Assistant Director Sophie Scott are both charismatic and energetic - the rehearsal room has a loud & lively atmosphere. This is definitely a funny play. I asked Ben why he chose it. “It doesn’t try to be overly profound, or pretentious… the absurdity is that Albee has put this really weird, crazy situation inside the perfect family, and said, Lets see what happens!” Despite the story, the characters are believable: “There’s a real sympathy we get for everyone, even Martin… which is weird cos of all the goat sex.” Ben puts this down to Albee’s ability to write characters and Gabriel Wheble’s well-prepared performance.

Sophie believes their adaptation of the script adds elements which the 2017 Damian Lewis production missed out on. “I’m not saying we’re better than Damian Lewis…” “Really?” “...actually, yeah go on, I’ll say that.” She explains that her and Ben decided to make the production less slapstick, allowing the comedic moments to have a darker element too. They have also given Billy, the 17-year-old son who is gay, a far stronger character than other productions previously have. To Sophie, the key character in the play is perhaps Stevie, Martin’s wife. Her status as ‘loved wife’ is betrayed, and we see how despite her strength, her character becomes chipped and broken by the news - that her husband is in love with a goat.

Ben Galvin, first-year, plays Billy. This is somehow already Ben’s fourth play at Cambridge, and many of the intensely expressive moments of the drama are Billy’s. “For my character, this is a chance for him to prove his strength… the power dynamic, where kids normally sit at the bottom, is switched.” Despite Martin’s love for the goat, he can only half accept his son’s sexuality. The comment on sexual taboo is clear - in Albee’s words, “I want everybody to be able to think about what they can’t imagine and what they have buried deep as being intolerable and insufferable. I want them to just think freshly and newly about it.”


Mountain View

Human Resources Review

This play shocks, but never gratuitously. Rather than begging the question, ‘Should we allow bestiality?’ it uses this as a jumping-off point for other reflections; How despite our cultural (architectural) zenith we remain as animals; where the private life intersects with the public; how sexual taboo is a changing category. Captivating acting, an absurd premise, and a thought-out interpretation makes this play very fun and oddly unique.

See 'The Goat' in the Corpus Playroom from Tuesday the 29th of January until Saturday the 2nd of February (7pm).

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