CSULB’s Cal Rep presents “The Goat or Who is Sylvia?”



Edward Albee’s “The Goat or Who is Sylvia?” opened this past weekend under the direction of James Martin at The Queen Mary’s Royal Theater. The play was put on by the California Repertory Company, which is made up of graduate students, staff and faculty of CSULB’s theater arts department.

The show chronicled the life of Martin (Brian Mulligan), a successful architect  who has just turned 50, making him the youngest man to ever win the Pritzker award, the top prize achievable in architecture. He has a seemingly happy life; he has a loving relationship with his wife Stevie (Roma Maffia) and together they have accepted the homosexuality of their young son Billy (Tyler Bremer).

There’s just one obstacle standing in the way of his perfect life; he’s having an affair with Sylvia—a goat.

After unsuccessful attempts at shooting a television interview about his award with his friend Ross (Craig Anton), Martin confides in him with his dark secret. This proves to be a mistake after a horrified Ross tells Stevie the truth in a letter that brings Martin’s world to a sudden halt.

What struck me the most about this play was not its bizarre subject matter—it was the simplicity in which it was presented.

Albee wrote the dialogue in a way that was straightforward and realistic. The performance of the cast brought that dialogue to the next level.

Maffia brought a snarkiness to Stevie’s character that made her real. Who wouldn’t break all the dishes in the room, yell hysterically or call the “man of her dreams” a dirty “goat fucker.” All of her feelings and emotions felt genuine, and Maffia showcased the disgust at being loved at an equal level as a goat perfectly.

Mulligan’s portrayal of Martin really made me dislike the character, rather than feel bad for him and the serious mental illness he had. However, that is probably just the nature of the character Albee created.

Bremer, on the other hand, really acted out Billy’s vulnerability in a way that really made me feel sorry for him. The man he had looked up to so dearly, had stooped to an unbelievably low level.

The lighting , costumes, hair and makeup, and set design all worked well with the tone of the play. However, an element I think could have been better was the scenery, but part of that was the limited space and the way the stage was structured.

The overall execution of the play definitely met my expectations, and I commend the fact that the company chose to address bestiality—which is a real issue that people go through.

Performances of “The Goat or Who is Sylvia” will continue through March 8, and tickets are available for purchase online at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/dept/115.

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