Yes, Virginia, there is a goat.
The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, Edward Albee's first Broadway play since 1981's flop The Man Who Had Three Arms, is not about imaginary babies, wangled tebs or gypsies, but an ordinary suburban family who suddenly finds a goat living in their midst.
Casting notices have revealed a little about the characters - Martin (filmdom's Bill Pullman) is an architect, Stevie (Oscar and Tony winner Mercedes Ruehl) is his passionate wife, Billy (Jeffrey Carlson) is their son and Martin's best friend (Stephen Rowe) is the host of a Charlie Rose-type interview program. More, though, no one, not even Albee, will say.
"I hate it when I go to a party and people are talking about a movie they've just seen and they tell me too much about it, so I won't have any surprises," Albee said, explaining the closed-lipped treatment. "Our picture ad is going to be of the family and a goat and there's no problem in saying the goat is a part of the family."
The world premiere is touted as a naturalistic play after Off-Broadway's esoteric The Play About the Baby and Baby's director David Esbjornson is back to direct. For Esbjornson this means being very careful with the material. "The material is very sharp. There are a lot of rhythms that have to be understood and adhered to. But it's also a realistic play, so we're going to try to approach it that way. We're going to make sure the actors know what they're doing on a moment-to-moment basis so the characters can emerge very clearly," he said.
Albee is best known for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. His other past plays include the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Delicate Balance, Seascape (set for a yet-uncast 2002 revival at Second Stage) and Three Tall Women, as well as the short works The Zoo Story and The American Dream. The spring will also see The Occupant starring Ann Bancroft and All Over at the McCarter Theatre.
The Goat or Who Is Sylvia? previews Feb. 16 and opens March 10 at the Golden Theatre. Tickets are $65-$75. For reservations, call (212) 239-6200.