Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Northern Stage, Newcastle, until April 30

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HERE’S a turn-up for the books, a three-and-a-half-hour-long play that is actually worth taking time out to see.

Edward Albee’s early 1960s bitter-sweet comedy about a middle-aged, middle-class couple whose marriage is falling apart is like watching a tribute rock band from that era, but its production values and above all, wonderful cast, make you think some tribute bands can still make it an entertaining evening despite belonging to half a century ago.

Jasper Britton and Sian Thomas as the venom-driven couple George and Martha are brilliant. Director Erica Wyman has picked well.

They are a drink-driven pair who play late night mind games with their young guests Nick (John Hopkins) and his hapless wife Honey (Lorna Beckettt).

A character-driven piece, it contains little plot other than drunken, bilious stories while the three acts suffer from the laws of diminishing returns.

Thankfully, the first act is excellent and the other two have their moments. However, I couldn’t help thinking judicious cutting would make this a much better two-act play.

Overall, the play is dated and will fade from the memory but the performances of Jasper Britton and Sian Thomas were truly memorable.