After 30 years, Glenda Jackson is back on Broadway in Three Tall Women: EW review Review REVIEWS

Opening Night:
Open Ended

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


Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, in which a nonagenarian revisits events of her life refracted through both her own dementia and the differing recollections of her younger selves, is a not-quite-memory play filled with regret, resentment, entitlement, various bodily indignities — and it is, as the old joke goes, all over much too quickly.

Having its Broadway premiere nearly a quarter-century after its Off-Broadway debut, Three Tall Women is far from an easy evening of theater, despite being a swift, intermission-less hour-and-a-half. In the first act a woman in her 90s (played by Glenda Jackson and identified in the program only as “A,”), strong of will but failing of mind, is tended to by a woman in her 50s (Laurie Metcalf, “B”) and visited, for vague legal reasons, by a woman in her 20s (Alison Pill, “C”). The text, by turns poignant and funny, can also be, like Jackson’s character, prickly and distant.

The play won Albee his third Pulitzer Prize, perhaps more as career recognition and to make up for giving no 1963 award for drama at all, rather than honoring his breakthrough Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. And yet many of the hallmarks of great Albee — pitch black humor, verbal takedowns, delightfully indulgent cynicism — are initially in short supply here. There are laughs, but he ekes them out of pee jokes. (Pill’s character has a shock of realization that she is sitting in the incontinent woman’s favorite chair.) Then there is a sex story that Jackson’s character shares involving a valuable bracelet, her naked husband, and… nevermind. Yes, you’ll laugh. As you do, her speech turns dark: the game and the jewels are revealed to be a more traumatic than hilarious memory.



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