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A Delicate Balance
Four years after Edward Albees huge Broadway hit Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf? came a play called A Delicate Balance. A Delicate Balance was first produced on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theater on 12 September 1966.
The play mainly deals with a recurring theme of Albees, entailing a sense of missed opportunity and loss as well as dysfunctional relationships. It looks into the confusion that erupts in a modern familys attempt to avoid pain and discomfort, which, as Albee demonstrates, only creates more pain and discomfort.
A Delicate Balance proved to be such a big success that it earned Albee the first of his three coveted Pulitzer Prizes for the work.
A Delicate Balance was commercially successful, more easily understood and appreciated by general audiences. Its story revolves around the WASP household of Agnes and Tobias, and Agnes' sister Claire. Claire never passes on an opportunity to drink or to make a good joke at someone's expense, sometimes at her own.
Then appear the two old friends named Harry and Edna, disrupting Agnes and companys uneasy peace. The fellow-empty-nesters with free-floating anxiety ask to stay with them to escape an unnamed terror. The main characters lives bear another fear by the arrival of their daughter Julia, whose fourth marriage has collapsed.
It wasnt until the production of A Delicate Balance that Edward Albee again enjoyed popular, critical, and financial success. His career took a slight downturn after the success of his play Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in terms of audience appeal and critical approval.
The play opens with the female lead Agnes, discussing the possibility of suddenly and quite easily losing her mind. Her husband, Tobias, responds to her that there is no saner woman on earth than herself.
He reassures Agnes that they will all go mad before her. Agnes admits that she could not really go mad because she needs to take care of him. While discussing the subject topic, Agnes brings up the topic of her sister Claire.
Agnes exclaims that it is her sister Claire who astonishes her the most. Though she doesnt want to use an unkind word, however, she doesnt stop delivering degrading remarks about Claire. Tobias tries bringing her to the point that she should apologize to Claire.
Seeing things getting hot, Agnes moves off and then returns to her subject of possibly going mad. Agnes believes that there are no mountains in her life because she is so stable. In the meantime, Claire appears in the room and apologizes to Agnes. Claire believes that her nature is such to bring out in Agnes the full force of her brutality.
At this point, Agnes leaves to telephone her daughter, Julia. She returns announcing that Julia is going through her yet another divorce and coming home shortly. Then appear on stage Agnes and Tobiass best friends, Harry and Edna.
Harry and Edna ask if they can stay there as they have been frightened by something intangible and do not want to return to their own home. The two occupy Julias old bedroom, leaving her whining about not having her room. Tobias throws insults at Julia and discredits her for all the broken marriages that she has accumulated.
Claire chides Julia about her new divorce and Julia teases Claire about her drinking. At the time when dinner is ready, Harry and Edna appear and announce that they are going home but will return with their suitcases. When they return, things even get worst.
Edna and Julia argue and throw insults at one another. Tobias announces that Julia is in hysterics who appears in the room with a gun in her hand. Julia insists that Harry and Edna should leave and they have no right to tell her what to do. Edna then declares that she and Harry are staying there forever.
Tobias eventually gives up his room to his daughter and stays up all night as he doesnt feel comfortable with his wife in her room. Near the end of act III, Claire, Julia, Tobias, and Agnes all discuss their versions of why Harry and Edna are there and what they should do with them.
Then Harry and Edna join them, and Edna announces that Harry wants to talk to Tobias alone. Harry tells Tobias that if the circumstances were reversed, he and Edna dont think they would allow Tobias and Agnes to live at their place, in spite of the fact that they are best friends. Tobias then delivers the specially written aria.
Agnes talks with Edna as Tobias and Harry leave to get the suitcases and put them in the car. The story ends on Agness thought that people sleep at night because they are afraid of the darkness and when the daylight comes again, everything comes order with it.
Although the play won Albee his first Pulitzer Prize, most critics at the time considered the play as one of Albees last gasps. The 1996 Broadway revival was produced by Lincoln Center Theater at the Plymouth Theatre. It starred Rosemary Harris, George Grizzard and Elaine Stritch. George Grizzard won Tony award and the production scored Tonys for Best Revival and Gerald Gutierrez's direction.
Albees A Delicate Balance has often been credited with creating an archetype for American drama with its classic study of the American family. Although the play was not Albees last gasp, Albee had to wait almost ten years before he won his second Pulitzer for Seascape in 1975.
He got his third prize for his Three Tall Women almost after twenty years in 1994. Despite his inconsistent successes, Albee has had an extremely significant impact on American theater.
Get your tickets for this must-see play and see yourself that why do we want to have our sunsets on untroubled water when we have submerged our truths.