Under the helm of David J. LeMaster, this cast of four, delivers some strikingly subtle performances. While the subtly works well to build the tension in the piece, at times the piece comes across as too subtle. I found myself wishing the blow-ups and yelling matches were more over the top. Edward Albee's script really encourages the chewing of the scenery, which is why Elizabeth Taylor was an obvious casting choice for the film. Even though he has elicited emotionally powerful performances from his cast, David J. LeMaster's direction makes Nick's line "Awful lot of yelling around here" in Act II seem incongruent with the show the audience is watching.
As George and Martha, Kevin Daugherty and C. Alane Johnson, deliver some wonderfully tense moments to the audience. Their constant battle of wits for control of the evening is discomforting, making the audience just as uneasy as Nick and Honey. Furthermore, throughout a majority of the show, Kevin Daugherty and C. Alane Johnson keep a wide ravine of space between the two of them, which visually illustrates how separate they are from each other. This staging was a nice nod to the problems in their relationship. As a whole, the directorial choices do add depth to the thematic elements of deceit in the guise of "truth or illusion" and playing psychological games on one another.
Kevin Daugherty's George is fantastically intellectual. He deftly understands how George uses his intellect to give himself power, making this element of the character superbly tangible for the audience. As for directorial choices, George could use a little more fire when he gets heated and invites the others to partake in yelling matches. With this heat added, I am almost certain that the rest of the yelling and scenery chewing would fall into place, allowing for a pristinely perfect production of the show as opposed to the enjoyable production that left me wanting a little more combustion with the healthy doses of bite I was getting.
C. Alane Johnson's Martha is terrific as a sultry vixen, which resembles the modern day idea of a cougar. Martha uses her sexuality as a tool to control, which C. Alane Johnson understands and employees adroitly in the performance. In the final moments of the show she really gets to shine, conjuring real tears to show how emotionally broken Martha truly is.
Nick and Honey played by Alex Ozburn and Brittany Stuessy appear to be youthful and naïve in the show's opening moments. Brittany Stuessy does a fantastic job keeping this going through the show, utilizing cutesy giggles and childlike mannerisms in her portrayal of Honey. This confounds, as it should, the reveal of Honey's secret burden, ultimately providing the audience with insight and the filling the character with regret and shame. Alex Ozburn, on the other hand, uses his first scene alone with Kevin Daugherty's George to display that Nick has a better understanding of the world and George and Martha than he initially let on. Alex Ozburn shows that he can play into the power struggle between George and Martha, but he has no desire to be a pawn in their game. He also has no desire to help decide a victor in that night's "excercises."
Curt Oian's set design is great. It is large and expansive, which the director utilizes well. Curt Oian has designed a room that can be used in small pieces at a time or can be completely filled, depending on the scope of the conversation. Likewise, the set has been well decorated, implying the intellectual acuity of George. It also showcases that Martha has similar tastes, which makes perfect sense, as her father is the president of the university that George teaches at. There are small tears on the curtains, which at first bothered me. Then, I felt that they were appropriate little details that can be seen on the set to indicate how vicious some of George and Martha's past fighting has been. Judging by Albee's expertly crafted dialogue, there is simply no way that Honey and Nick are participants in George and Martha's first battle of wits.