A Delicate Balance, Edward Albee, 1966
Yikes! Is this really what life in suburbia in the ‘60’s was like? Reading this play, originally starring Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronin and most recently revived with Glen Close and John Lithgow, gives one the creeps—alienation, alcoholism, terror, no communication, hatred/love, madness, aging. Albee crams it all into this Pulitzer Prize winning drama, and just as in Virginia Woolf, it is so alarming and discomfiting that the reader/audience can’t wait for it to end. The eponymous delicate balance of the family crumbles in the face of the alcoholic sister-in-law, the fourth-failed marriage of the daughter, the referred to death of the young son, and the plague/terror of the ‘best friends’. The center cannot hold in the face of all of this even with the denial and the ignoring of Tobias and Agnes. As Agnes says in the final act, “Time. Time happens, I suppose. To people. Everything becomes….too late finally. You know it’s going on….up on the hill; you can see the dust, and hear the cries, and the steel….but you wait; and time happens. When you do go, sword, shield….finally….there’s nothing there….save rust; bones; and the wind.” Life happens and then you die. Ugh!