That was February in London Theatre land - theatre food and presidential celeb spots
REVIEW: The little play on the big stage - Ugly Lies the Bone, National Theatre

REVIEW: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (and Imelda Staunton)?, Harold Pinter Theatre

9-Imelda-Staunton-as-Martha-in-Edward-Albees-Whos-Afraid-of-Virginia-Woolf-in-the-West-End.jpgWhatever I've seen Imelda Staunton in, she's been brilliant; even if the play hasn't been up to much she manages to shine, so expectations were high for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I've not seen Edward Albee's play before so can't compare it with other productions. I've heard some say they thought Kathleen Turner's Martha would take the award if pitted directly against Imelda but, for me, she was everything I expected; she is as scary, damaged and sharp as the promotional picture implies. And, Conleth Hill - who plays one of my favourite characters in Game of Thrones - is the perfect foil, as the listlessly sour George.

Set in their home, Martha and George return late from a party at the University faculty where George teaches. Martha has invited over a young couple  - Nick (Luke Treadaway) and Honey (Imogen Poots) - from the party for drinks. George is in the history department, Martha's father is president of the University and Nick has just started teaching biology.

Martha and George snipe at each other, their comments becoming more barbed, it seems to be a game they play. In fact they like to play games and as more drinks are consumed Nick and Honey get dragged into them. Martha and George's marriage is wrapped up in bitterness, regret and an emptiness and the games seem to be a survival mechanism, part of a fantasy that helps them to co-exist. It is an affection of sorts - if nothing else Edward Albee's play shows the fine line between love and hate. There is an honesty in it - and a dishonesty. And Nick and Honey's marriage has it's own dishonesty which is exposed during the evening.

It is a play of pin-drop pregnant pauses, a play that is witty, dark and devastating. It is at times a difficult watch, and sometimes you feel you shouldn't be watching but like a car crash happening in slow motion you can't tear your eyes away. I'm giving it five stars.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is at the Harold Pinter Theatre until May 27 and is three hours long with one interval and a five minute pause.