What is The Goat, or Who is Sylvia all about?

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The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia is one hell of a name for a show. When I turned up to watch this I turned up with no expectations and yet it still somehow wasn’t what I expected. I laughed and I cried in the space of  90 minutes (and there was no interval to go and sort my face out!)

The Goat is directed by Ian Rickson and was written in 2002 and is playing at the Royal Haymarket for a short stint. It’s definitely different that’s for sure!

What’s it all about?

To put it simply, the show is about Martin (played by Damian Lewis) a happily married award winning architect who is in love with a goat. He fell for her when he was busy looking for a new family home in the countryside. It was her eyes, apparently. His wife of 20 years is quite understandably not too happy. He tries to explain that he is in love with the goat for her soul but well, she’s not having any of it. She responds by smashing up their house of course. Oh and they have a gay son called Billy too. I like to think they called him Billy on purpose (Billy Goat), but who knows.

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How is the cast?

Damian Lewis is wonderful. I regularly say that it’s the cast that make or break a show and again, that is the case here. Somehow I still managed to find him endearing, despite the bestiality. Even when he takes a photo of his beloved goat out of his wallet and passes it around as you would a photo of your wife, I couldn’t help but find him very loveable. He is so calm and reasonable in his explanation of his love for the goat that he almost convinces you that it is perfectly acceptable. Sophie Okonedo who plays Martin’s wife Stevie is equally convincing. Her reactions are raw and real. She is also very, very funny.

The Goat should be ridiculous, it sounds it on paper. However, it is actually very thought provoking. It explores liberal thinking and the elasticity of attraction. How open minded should we be? How far is too far? When is the line crossed? It manages to tackle a very taboo subject in an emotional and dramatic manner that leaves you engrossed.

Who should go and see it?

Maybe don’t take the kids to see this one though – you might end up with some difficult questions to answer!

Where can I watch it?

The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia is currently showing at the Royal Haymarket until the 24th of June. The nearest tube station to the theatre is Charing Cross and you can get tickets here.


Photos courtesy of London Theatre