Dramaworks presents Albee in balance, at top of his game

Review

Dramaworks presents Albee in balance, at top of his game

Dec 10 2012
Hap Erstein | Palm Beach Post

Since Palm Beach Dramaworks specializes in producing Pulitzer Prize-winning plays as well as works by Edward Albee, it was probably inevitable that the West Palm Beach company would get around to 1966's "A Delicate Balance." It is generally accepted that Albee, America's greatest living playwright, was given his first Pulitzer chiefly as a consolation for having been denied one four years earlier for his masterpiece, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Even so, there is little doubt that "A Delicate Balance" is a great play as well. The proof is currently on display in a chilling, powerfully performed production on Clematis Street through Jan. 6... The conflicts are less visceral than they are in "Virginia Woolf," but perhaps more universal, as the civility of Agnes and Tobias's world starts crumbling. Albee has long been known for his hyper-articulate dialogue, and never more so than in "A Delicate Balance".... This is particularly evident with Agnes, the family fulcrum who rules the roost, yet defers to Tobias on the matter of how to handle the uninvited neighbors. As portrayed by Maureen Anderman, a Tony Award-nominated interpreter of numerous Albee women, Agnes is a study in cerebral control, imperiously snapping off her words, a force to be reckoned with. Just as impressive is Dennis Creaghan's Tobias, who brings such complexity to the disposition of his quandary. He draws us in with his early tale of a failed relationship with a pet cat, and comes on strong in his uneasy third act confrontation with Harry, all the while bringing a conversational air to Albee's serpentine sentence structure. Perhaps the play's most vibrant creature is Agnes's alcoholic sister Claire (Angie Radosh, who appeared in a Caldwell Theatre "Delicate Balance" 12 years ago as Agnes). She is given the play's best lines, which Radosh delivers with martini-dry wit, imparting caustic wisdom as befits the character's name... Consistently impressive scenic designer Michael Amico has provided a tastefully monochromatic living room and his wife, Erin, costumes the cast in the garb of the monied class. Director Hayes is not out to impose any concept on the play, but instead to render it cleanly and elegantly, knowing that the script needs no assistance. Whether you are new to "A Delicate Balance" or returning to it, the Dramaworks production contains all the verbal and emotional punch of Albee at the top of his game.