Gary F. Taylor
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Edward Albee (b. 1928) is best known for the landmark WHOSE AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?--but he is also the author of numerous other distinguished plays, including TINY ALICE, ALL OVER, and THREE TALL WOMEN. First performed in 1966, A DELICATE BALANCE was an immediate critical success, and although it has not been as popular with the public as some other Albee works, it has been widely studied, performed, and frequently revived.
The play is performed in three acts, with two scenes in the second act. It is played on a single unit set, displaying an upscale living area on the first floor of a wealthy home. The cast includes four women and two men. Three of the women and the two men are in their fifties. The fourth woman is in her thirties. The script is extremely demanding and requires expert players; past performers have included Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, Elaine Stritch, John Lithgow, and Martha Plimpton, among others.
Many of Albee's plays have an "experimental" quality, and this is particularly true of A DELICATE BALANCE, which does not have a cohesive plot and which possesses an open-ended quality in which little is explained and we are left to wonder at the characters' motivations. In Act One, Agnes and Tobias, an wealthy but aging couple, are seen having drinks after dinner. Agnes' manner drifts from vague to sharp; Tobias, however, seems permanently vague. They are interrupted by Claire, Agnes' sister, who lives with them. Claire is an alcoholic and Agnes despises her. They argue in a nasty but oddly random sort of way until Harry and Edna, their best friends, arrive. They have suddenly become frightened in their own home, and, running from their unspecified fears, have come unannounced to spend the night.
In Act Two, the situation is complicated by the arrival of Julia, Tobias and Agnes' daughter. Julia has left her fourth husband and is outraged to find Harry and Edna in her room. As the play progresses through Act Two and Act Three, the various characters begin to assume each other's identies. This is particularly true of Edna, who becomes remarkably like Agnes in terms of speech and manner. In a very real sense they battle over territory, over who has the right to stay in the house and who does not. At the end of the play, Harry and Edna go their own home--but the fear that drove them is never specified, and we are left to suspect it is a fear of the status quo, ennui, and emotional emptiness that seems to characterize all the personalities in the play.
A DELICATE BALANCE is a fascinating read, and in the hands of a master cast it would no doubt be fascinating to watch. But this is not an easy play, for there are few things in terms of character or plot that you can cling to. Which ultimately seems to be the point of the play as a whole. Recommended, but not a light read.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer