This Albee play garnered Edward Albee the first of three Pulitzer Prize for Drama awards.
It isn’t long into this work that the delicate balance keeping the characters in a holding pattern totters over, and chaos and enmity ensue.
We are introduced first to Agnes and Tobias a middle-aged couple living in the suburbs. They have been long time married and are reasonably comfortable with each other. Agnes confides in Tobias her fear that she might lose her sanity and wonders whether he would be there for her if she did.
Next we are introduced to Agnes’ very difficult sister Claire who has been living with them for some time. Agnes and Tobias’ s frustration with Claire is that she won’t be honest with herself. Even though she has been to countless AA meetings, she still tells them that she has control over her drinking and isn’t an alcoholic. Meanwhile she takes another drink from their bar.
Two events take place that shatter Agnes’ and Tobias’ fragile peace. Their moody daughter Julia returns home with the news that her fourth marriage has fallen apart and that she needs to stay with them for the time being. Their daughter is a serial divorcee, something that is difficult to accept.
The other event is the arrival of their best friends Edna and Harry at their doorstep. They come in to tell them that they don’t feel safe, they have been spooked, that’s about all they can say. They ask if they can stay.
They give the couple Julia’s old bedroom. They bunker down there for the day. Julia is furious.
Act 1 ends on Agnes’ edgy note to everyone assembled, ‘dinner is served if you have the stomach for it’.
Yes, Sturm and Drang is the main item on Albee’s menu. Victor Kalka’s production serves the play well, keeping the action tight and focused.
An appealing aspect of the production was the good use of a minimal set. The main set comprised Agnes’ and Tobias’ bar, and there were plant boxes lining the far wall. The actors were given the opportunity to move easily around what was a large stage area for an intimate theatre.
The performances were edgy and well maintained. Alice Livingstone delivered a memorable performance as the family matriarch, Agnes.
Martin Bell played Tobias with perhaps a little too much restraint.
Suzanna James played Claire with the right amount of edge and instability.
As Julia Zoe Crawford captured her characters’ anguish that she is unloved. Hers is a strong performance and she makes the most of being in some of the play’s most dramatic scenes.
The unlikable couple Edna and Harry are played appropriately by Alison Chambers and James Bean.
Sydney classic Theatre Company’s production of A DELICATE BALANCE is only playing a brief season at the Chippen Street Theatre, 45 Chippen Street Theatre, Chippendale playing until Saturday 16th November. If good drama is your thing, then this show is well worth a visit.
Tickets Online : bit.ly/ADB19