‘Delicate Balance’ teeters slightly but always fascinates

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by admin No Comments

The setting for Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance is “the living room of a large and well-appointed suburban home,” and scenic designer Santo Loquasto has conjured the scene so sumptuously at Broadway’s Golden Theatre that you can practically hear the tennis balls being hit at the country club down the road. Director Pam MacKinnon, who won a Tony for her staging of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, has paid exquisite attention to surface detail in her handsome revival starring Glenn Close and John Lithgow. But then, refined upholstery and the correct shade of paint, to say nothing of an exquisitely arranged bar, are crucial in a play about upper-class characters who have buried the truth of their lives under expensive trappings. Part drawing-room comedy, part existentialist drama, A Delicate Balance blends Noël Coward with Samuel Beckett in a work that bears all the hallmarks of Albee’s central preoccupations as an artist: the domestic rancor inflamed by booze, the free-flowing anxiety that can’t be pinned down, the lost child that has created a marital vacuum and the curiously fussy language that bounces between comic attack and philosophical conjecture. Whether this Pulitzer Prize-winning play, first done on Broadway in 1966, represents the author at his best remains an open question. A Delicate Balance has neither the savage vigor of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? nor the stylistic ingenuity of Three Tall Women.