Love and The Goat Get Messy Onstage

In The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, a man throws himself on the horns of a romantic dilemma

Albee doesn't stop with the topic of Capricorn. The Goat gets grosser and grosser by the minute, having Martin share stories of sessions in a secretive self-help group for similarly twisted beast-bangers. There's a guy who has it off with a pig, Martin tells Stevie, and one who goes at it with a goose. (Albee at least shows restraint by not having the goose-screwer tell a motel clerk to "put it on my bill.") Trying to make his wife understand his problem, Martin mentions that all of the group members suffered sexual trauma as children, a possible rationale for adult perversions. (Hey, has Albee been up late listening to Loveline?) But Stevie sneers at the idea of "Goat-Fuckers Anonymous" and Albee doesn't allow the audience any insight into Martin's motivation. Was he too a victim of some unspeakable act?

We never find out, but we do get bombarded with more taboos, like incest with Billy, which seems incidental compared to Martin's extramarital dalliance. The Goat caroms from one jaw-dropper to another. It's all a bit much. Outside of certain corners of the Ozarks and some less reputable circuses, people just don't do things as awful as this and then talk about it—at least not without a guarantee of first-class accommodations by the Jerry Springer show.

Albee shorts us on logic, but the leading actors at Kitchen Dog are generous with their performances. Hess plays Martin with a 1,000-yard stare, as though his thoughts and heart are always with Sylvia on the back 40. He's good, but it's really Diane Box-Worman's show. Nobody says "goat-fucker" with such a womanly guttural thrust. Her breakdown scene, culminating in three feral wails, is shattering.

Bob Hess and Diane Box-Worman enter rocky times when he screws the nanny.
Matt Mrozek
Bob Hess and Diane Box-Worman enter rocky times when he screws the nanny.

As for the other two, Nash never finds his rhythm as Martin's old school chum Ross. On opening night, he stumbled on lines and looked lost in the blocking. Kevin Moore is way too old to be a believable 17-year-old, but he has a youthful, bouncy energy and, besides, casting a real teenager in this hard-R-rated play might be regarded as a form of abuse. It's tough enough on the grown-up actors. For every performance, they have to hoof it to the theater to spin an ugly yarn about the love that dare not bleat its name.

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