Nancy Bell scared the shit out of a theater full of people, and it had nothing to do with the goat carcass she dragged onstage. As Stevie, the wife chucked over for an actual goddamn goat in Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (St. Louis Actors' Studio), Bell delivered the kind of indelible performance you see on the inside of your eyelids days later. Stevie takes the news of her husband's infidelity with unexpected equanimity — she periodically destroys something in their ritzy New York apartment, but she rarely raises her voice or loses her cool. Bell smashed that set to flinders while verbally flaying her husband with chilling grace. There were no fumbles, never a moment where you thought she was acting; Bell wreaked havoc with élan. At the end, when she finally did snap, she found a hollow register in her voice and grated out with prickling diction the key line: "You have brought me down to nothing, and Christ, I'll bring you down with me," while kneeling in the remains of her home, her marriage and her life. And in that moment of absolute void, she calmly stood up and walked offstage, and you could see the collective shudder that rippled through the hunched-up audience, like a sharp wind through a field of stubble.
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