‘Three Tall Women’: Theater Review BROADWAY REVIEWS

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Open Ended

Theater: Golden Theatre / 252 W. 45th Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

Stage acting doesn't get any better than Glenda Jackson's performance as the autocratic nonagenarian in Edward Albee's Three Tall Women, modeled on the adoptive mother with whom the playwright had a famously thorny relationship. On Broadway for the first time in 30 years (23 of which she spent as a member of British Parliament), the two-time Oscar winner shows no trace of rustiness in a characterization of such diamond-hard ferocity you dare not take your eyes off her. It's an almost ridiculous luxury that in Joe Mantello's crystalline production of this brittle but moving play about death and self-knowledge, two such accomplished actors as Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill become supplementary dividends.

With its taut structure, psychological acuity, acid-dipped humor and fragmented approach toward anatomizing a single life, not to mention its transparency as a work of an intensely personal nature, Three Tall Women did much to restore Albee's reputation. After the early plays that had established him as a bracingly original voice in American drama — among them The Zoo Story, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and A Delicate Balance — the playwright had fallen out of favor through the 1980s, producing work that remained frustratingly cryptic, arid and distancing. Sorting through unresolved feelings toward his adoptive mother in a play he once described as "a kind of exorcism," Albee's writing here feels revitalized, which makes this 1994 Pulitzer-winning drama a fine choice for the first Broadway production of his work since his death in 2016.

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