Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


Writers: Edward Albee


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Unit/Single Set
Time & Place
1960s, “the living room of a house on the campus of a small new england college”
Cast Size
Ideal for
community theater, regional theater, professional theater, black box, ensemble cast, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre, Small Cast
Casting Notes

Includes adult, mature adult characters


Inspired by August Strindberg’s Dance of Death, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? chronicles a long night’s journey into dawn with George and Martha, arguably the most singularly vicious married couple in the history of the American theater. In the first act (“Fun and Games”), they careen home at two o’clock in the morning, drunk from a late-night faculty party. Martha reminds her incredulous husband that she’s invited guests over, and soon they arrive: the new biology professor Nick and his wife Honey. The older couple tease and torment each other, until their attacks become so personal and cutting that Honey gets sick and leaves, and the party lurches into a temporary lull. In the second act (“Walpurgisnacht”), George coaxes an intoxicated Nick into revealing some incriminating details: he only married Honey because she was rich and apparently pregnant. (It turned out to be a hysterical pregnancy, and the couple never had any children.) George tells the story of a troubled teenager: a boy who accidentally killed his own mother with a shotgun and, later, his own father in a car accident. Martha and Honey return, and soon Nick and Martha are slow dancing together, to the dismay of their respective spouses. Martha mocks the semi-autobiographical novel George once wrote, a novel about a teenager who accidentally killed his parents. In retaliation, George invents a new game, “Get The Guests,” in which he reveals that Honey once had a hysterical pregnancy. Once again, Honey leaves the room to throw up. The third act (“The Exorcism”) opens shortly after Nick and Martha have attempted to have sex. (Nick’s drunken state has apparently prevented him from consummating the relationship.) George arrives and demands they play one final game, “Bringing Up Baby”. He forces Martha to recount details about their son before revealing that he’s just received a telegram that their son is dead. Finally, the truth comes out: they never had a son, but for years they’ve privately pretended to have one. Nick and Honey leave George and Martha. It is a little before dawn, and George quietly sings, “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” “I . . . am . . . George,” Martha replies, haltingly.

Lead Characters

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? guide sections