Susan Granger’s review of “A Delicate Balance” (Berkshire Theatre Festival 2010
By Susan Granger
Like his best known play, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance” is another relevant examination of relationships, particularly marriage.
Living in upper middle-class suburbia, Agnes (Maureen Anderman) and Tobias (Jonathan Hogan) have been married for many years. Now in their late fifties, they occupy separate bedrooms, as Agnes struggles to maintain not only their stability but her sanity which is severely strained by the constant presence of her audacious, unmarried, alcoholic sister Claire (Lisa Emery). Agnes’ tenuous equilibrium is further tested by the unexpected arrival of their closest friends, Edna (Mia Dillon) and Harry (Keir Dullea), who are inexplicably “frightened” and beg to spend the night. Ordinarily, that would not be difficult since their grown daughter Julia’s bedroom is empty, but Agnes and Tobias have just heard that volatile, petulant Julia (Mia Barron) has left her fourth husband and is en route home. Then, as Albee, so succinctly puts it, “The shit hits the fan.”
Seething with unspoken anger and repressed resentment, Maureen Anderman elegantly embodies the conflicting emotions that propel Agnes, the character who epitomizes Edward Albee’s ferocious vitriol. Director David Auburn (who wrote “Proof”) has assembled an exemplary cast that deliciously delves into the precarious, sniping dysfunction that’s engendered by family and close friends. R. Michael Miller’s set is gracefully evocative of ‘60s WASP society, enhanced by Dan Kotlowitz’ lighting.
A beacon of quality theater, “A Delicate Balance” is on the Main Stage of the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, thru Sept. 4th ...tickets available at 413-298-5576 and online at: www.berkshiretheatre.org. It’s a must-see.