The gleaming goat

The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

“Martin, this is me leaving you, goat edition.”

“Martin, this is me leaving you, goat edition.”

Photo by Margaret Morneau

The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, 8 p.m., Friday, Saturday; $15-$20. Resurrection Theatre at the California Stage, 2509 R Street; (916) 223-9568; Through October 5.
Rated 5.0

Oedipus had his mother, and Martin has his goat. Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? is a postmodern takedown of the classical Greek tragedy, where deep, dark drama lies beneath seemingly everyday dynamics.

Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Albee, whose most familiar work is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, again examines and dissects a marriage, though The Goat takes us down a much darker and unexpected tunnel. The title and dialogue hints at the reveal that happens during the first half—that a perfectly pleasant middle-aged couple is going to implode when the wife finds out the husband has fallen in love with another udder.

Martin (Jes Gonzales) and Stevie (Lee Marie Kelly) are a long-married, seemingly content couple, playfully sparring with familiar banter. Until Stevie learns through Martin’s longtime friend Ross (Paul Fearn) that Martin’s been having an affair. With a goat.

The reveal begins a theater of the absurd that keeps us amused in the first half. The humor is a bit sardonic, and through both the dialogue and the remarkable performances and chemistry between the two leads (Gonzales and Kelly), Resurrection Theatre makes the improbable plausible.

In the second half, the tone shifts, and it soon becomes apparent that it doesn’t matter who the other entity is in a love triangle—there’s still the issues of love, longing, loyalty, betrayal, emotional pain, societal acceptance, and who and what determines which lines can or cannot be crossed.

It’s gut-wrenching as emotions are laid bare when everyone concerned—husband, wife, son (Alexander Hogy as Billy) and friend—realize that life as they once knew it has shattered and the pieces can’t be put back together again. Major warning: This play is not for the faint of heart.

There are times where Albee doesn’t really stay true to his vision when he interjects unnecessary jokes or shocking tidbits. But overall, through the strength of the play and the powerful performances by Resurrection Theatre’s cohesive and compelling cast, the audience is drawn in and compelled to stay to the shocking end.