Today was a cultural day: First we visited the Guggenheim Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, sat for a while in the NGV's Member's Lounge (like Qantas club, but with 500 fewer people in the lounge and only coffee with gingernut biscuits) and then we topped the afternoon off with an attendance at the MTC's production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Today was the second last day that the Guggenheim Exhibition was going to be open in Melbourne. Nothing like leaving it to the last moment.

I've visited a Guggenheim on three previous occasions:

  • I've once visited the Penny Guggenheim museum in Venice
  • On my first visit to New York, where I was spending a day and a half in town, I managed to see the outside of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the one designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
    Given that I was only in town for a day and a half, some places weren't going to be open as whilst I continued sightseeing into the night. It was shut, so I couldn't go inside to see the works of art. On the other hand, the magnificent building was illuminated. It looked magic. Closer examination left me thinking "Hmm, the building's brilliant, but it's looking a little shabby". Which leads to my third visit...
  • In 2005 we visited New York for two weeks, so there was plenty of time to visit the Guggenheim. However, the trustees had noticed my concern about the state of the building, and had started repairs. So half the building was covered in scaffolding. It took some effort to take photos that excluded the scaffolding. (See photo above.)
    When we went inside, we saw that beautiful curved walkways. We caught a lift to the top and followed Frank Lloyd Wright's intended path, down the spiral walkway. Unfortunately, the museum had almost none of its usual works. For some reason these had all been replaced by Russian works of art.

As a result, it was very good to be able to see the highlights of the Guggenheim's works when they came to Melbourne.


Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The classic movie performance of this play featured Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. On and off, these two were a real life couple. Despite being mega-movie stars of their day, you get the feeling they really are the dysfunctional Martha and George of the play.

So how did MTC's Wendy Hughes and Garry McDonald compare to the almost incomparable Taylor/Burton?

Extremely well.

I would have assumed that all the world knows the story... except that a few people in our group of theatre attendees hadn't seen it, so I'll avoid assumptions and give you a feeling for what it's about:

George and Martha - a middle aged university couple - invite young, newly arrived husband and wife Nick and Honey back to their house for drinks after another function. George and Martha have a long traditional of emotional brinkmanship. From 2am until dawn, George and Martha play gut wrenching psychological games with each other that mix fact and fantasy, drawing the initially unsuspecting Nick and Honey into their whirlpool of emotionally draining and yet intelligent (and even witty) attack and counter-attack.

It's hard to think of a story/play/movie as emotionally taut and bloody as this one.

But, at the end of the day, I think I'd say (perhaps controversially) this play is a the love story of George and Martha.

I've known many happy couples. I've known unhappy ones: and they've often broken up. And I've known a smaller number of couples where the emotional relationship is nothing like as simple as love or non-love. George and Martha take it to extremes: they are arch-manipulators, but each of them loves the conflict in their relationship.

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Anthony Holmes October 6th, 2007 09:34:59 PM

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