Review

Dysfunctional Family Play Stunningly Executed

Dec 15 2012
Michelle F. Solomon | MiamiArtZine

There are so many universal undercurrents in A Delicate Balance: relationships, friendships, family, marriage, couples growing older together, empty nest syndrome, greed, hypocrisy, infidelity, addiction, The American Dream, that there is something that is bound to hit a nerve. First, however, you have to wade through playwright Edward Albee's exposition. While his dialogue may seem dense at times, it takes a delicate balance in the approach and execution in order for this Pulitzer Prize winning play to succeed. And, when it does, the brilliance of the script shines and it plays like a beautiful dramatic score. Every detail must be tightly crafted, the dialogue must be treated and tempered just right, each actor needs to stake their character's position, but musn't break the ensemble. This is a tightrope act for both director and cast. Palm Beach Dramaworks excels at masterfully presenting American playwrights' works. They understand what's involved in taking on a challenging play such as A Delicate Balance. It's the seventh Albee play staged by PBD, and director William Hayes shows a depth of understanding of what it means to mine a script such as this for all its richness. ...Anderman as Agnes has a number of Albee plays under her belt, including working with the author himself in a revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Her delivery of the lines is powerful and incredibly spot on, showing emotion in each fascinating monologue (and Agnes has more than a few), as she hides behind a cool veneer of ice. Creaghan – last seen in Dramaworks' production of The Fantasticks – as Tobias is a pillar of restraint in the first two acts, playing emotionless detachment with a believable edge. His third act aria, however, is full of emotional acrobatics, and when it reaches its fever pitch, it's a "wow" moment. ...Michael Amico's spacious drawing room set with high shelves filled with leather bound books, the center piece of an overstuffed couch, an oriental throw rug, and bar (which gets a workout in this play where alcohol flows constantly and freely) richly illustrates the communal area where the family drama unspools. At the end of the play, audience members flowed out into the lobby where clusters of conversations ensued. Albee's undercurrents had indeed struck a nerve or two, and the deftly handled production was the catalyst that brought it all to the fore.