Sometimes we think we know actors so well that we don't really see them at all. When wasn't Alan Knoll a familiar part of the local theater scene? He could always be counted on to deliver amusing, sometimes exaggerated, performances. But it wasn't the kind of acting that made viewers sit up and take notice. Then a few years ago (perhaps beginning in 2005 with the Black Rep's sensitive staging of Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage) Knoll began to move into more subtle directions. By the time he portrayed the shadowy George in Muddy Waters' Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? his work had become measured and nuanced. In Edward Albee's lacerating dissection of an American marriage, George is often little more than a rumpled foil to Martha, his braying Clytemnestra of a wife. But Knoll was much more than that. Intelligent, shrewd and ultimately compassionate, his deftly modulated George helped to remind us that this American classic concerns not the browbeating of a husband, but rather the survival of a marriage.
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