Do you trust me? Really, do you trust me? Because if you do, stop reading this review right now and go see Blind Pug Arts Collective Presents: The Theatre of Self-Loathing Presents: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? because, if you read on I will be forced to ruin one of the greatest moments in theatre that I have ever experienced.
Still here? Full disclosure: I didn’t do a lot of research before I went to see Blind Pug Arts Collective Presents: The Theatre of Self-Loathing Presents: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? I did, however, read that it would be Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf by a European Arts collective called the Theatre of Self Loathing. “I love Edward Albee,” I thought to myself, “And they are Europeans, which must explain why they can’t spell Woolf.” Oh, how little did I know.
The lobby announcement informed me that the production would contain nudity, scenes of rape, and a gun. “How did they fit all that into Virginia Woolf? ”I pondered. As the actors took the stage, I suspected nothing: they were dressed in black, the woman has a severe, Eastern European hairstyle. But then they began to talk, and it slowly began to dawn on me. It was a joke. A really, hilariously funny joke. I wasn’t going to see Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at all. It was a comedy! Praise Thespis!
The Theatre of Self Loathing is comprised of Eddie (probably Dave Byrd), Cassilda (possibly Paige O’Malley) and their apprentice, Actor 3 (almost certainly Niusha Nawab.) While following their 10 Tenets of the Theatre of Self Loathing (Kill your Idols! No one must die facetiously on stage! Never produce Oklahoma!) the three set out to correct our mistaken American assumptions about what makes good art.
The audience is presented with several short pieces, with the promise that the evening will culminate in their ultimate, most powerful work, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? We are treated to a rendition of Puppet Menagerie, in which Amanda is a domineering, fading Southern belle, Tom is an ineffectual, impotent semi-narrator, and Laura is a limp puppet, literally.
Blind Pug Arts Collective Presents: The Theatre of Self-Loathing Presents: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?
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There is a dramaturgical presentation on theatre superstition that goes horribly awry, and an ode to the great tragedy of the working stage prop. We are encouraged to follow one of the most important tenets of the Theatre of Self-Loathing, to kill your idols, with a piece (which we are encouraged to call only Horror) in which Shakespeare is proved to be very dated, and a spot-on send-up of a certain Russian writer (perfect in currently-Chekov-obsessed DC) called God Damn Fowl. Their final presentation is the much-anticipated Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? What happens? I can’t give that much away.
The genius of Blind Pug Arts Collective Presents: The Theatre of Self-Loathing Presents: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? is that it is irreverent without being degrading, referential without being obtuse, and, ultimately, a grand time for anyone who has ever loved the theatre.