Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Delicate Balance

When I returned home from this play I was satiated.  However, In order to not feel like an idiot, I had to something I almost never do - read the other reviews.  Why you might ask?  I was both amazed and confounded at the same time.    This play is a doozy.  Acerbic dialogue.  Seemingly simple characters and one of the most absurd plots I have ever seen is such a seriously dramatic play.   After reading the various reviews, my soul was assuaged.  I had indeed not read too much into the plot and taken away, I think, what was intended despite the absurdity.  I think.

Agnes and Tobias (Glenn Close and John Lithgow) are the Queen and (albeit emasculated) King of their luxurious suburban domain.  They have their issues.  Indeed we get some insight into their issues.  Some of everything about them is a part of all of us.  They are uncomfortably familiar.   Claire (Lindsay Duncan) is the drunk sister living seemingly untethered to money and job for free at home (doesn't everyone have one of these?).  Julia (Martha Plimpton) is the clearly over-privileged 36yo daughter coming home after her 4th marriage has failed to inevitably butt heads with her parents.  Edna and Harry (Claire Higgins and Bob Balaban) are the neighbors/best friends who really throw the whole thing into the shitter when they arrive and announce that out of an undefined fear - they are moving in.  Literally moving in.  Queue to absurdity.

Acting was superb all around although because the story takes an absurd turn you are always reminded that this is acting.  How could this really be natural?  It's not.  But that issue aside (you'll have to take that one up with Mr. Albee) the plot moves along swiftly and with biting purpose a whole lot of love, disappointment, and plenty of vitriol all wrapped up in one 3 act play.

This play has been done before and this cast will inevitably be compared to the past.  While I don't think this cast surpasses the bar set by its predecessors, it certainly succeeds in living up to the high expectations of the author.

The single set by Santo Loquasto is grand, except for the placement that at least ⅓ of the audience can't see - the grand staircase  - as it is set too deep on stage left (hint: if you're in the orchestra, sit center of left).

Left itself is indeed a delicate balance.  Take care not to disturb it.  Your neighbors just might move in.