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Virginia Woolf’ leaves nothing to fear

“Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” “I am.”

The tour de force that made Edward Albee a household name in the world of theater and the man he is today opens next week at Portland Center Stage as it continues its 2002-2003 15th anniversary season.

Counted as one of the more powerful plays of the 20th century, its meshed, criss-crossed net of psychology, sociology, and political and sexual commentary remain poignant even in the world today, which is well over 20 years later.

The play’s main focus is on the married couple of George and Martha, who, after a party where almost everyone has left, enter into a vodka- and drug-fueled psychological and verbal war.

Two newlyweds, Honey and Nick, are drawn into the fray as the institution of marriage is challenged, dissected and shredded.

Alan Schneider, director of works from such famous playwrights as Samuel Becket and Harold Pinter, expressed, after his first read-through of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” “The play exploded like a sudden storm, one stroke of lightening, one thunder clap after another … there was no doubting. It was …’magic time’: language, life and truth all blended into an emotional wallop that was as tangible as pain.”

It will be interesting to see what Portland Center Stage can bring to this production.

The last time ‘Woolf’ had a notable presentation in Portland was when Clackamas Community College produced the show under the tutelage of Albee himself.

Nancy Keystone directs the play, and Allen Nause, the artistic director of Artists Repertory Theater, reprises the character of George, the role he made his Portland debut in 17 years ago.

This production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” shows great promise. So get out there and see it. Come on, you’re not afraid of the Woolf, are you?

The show previews Jan. 14 and runs through Feb. 9, with matinees on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at the Newmark Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway and Main. Ticket prices run from $12 (if you’re under 25) to $47. Call and make your reservations at 503-274-6588.