“A Delicate Balance” at Palm Beach Dramaworks has all the leitmotifs of an Edward Albee drama.
There is – on top of things – the acidic humor, the boozy arguments, the outside couple stirring the pot. And there is also the regret, the quiet desperation, the loss and the alienation – underneath things.
This production has all of that. And it has a cast that handles the subtle rhythmic shifts and the morphing emotional textures of Albee's script with smooth ease, like an Olympian athlete who doesn’t even pant hard or break a sweat crossing the finish line. Directed by William Hayes, who knows his flair from his flash, the cast weaves an almost cinematic spell, drawing you in and immersing you into the action so that the two intermissions and two and a half hours fly by.
No seriously, they do.
The play centers on Agnes (Maureen Anderman, all proper without a hint of prim) and Tobias (Dennis Creaghan, who seems to have his character replicated down to the DNA) in their well-to-do home, which they share with Agnes’ sister Claire (Angie Radosh, sharp and bracing). While Agnes and Tobias prefer to keep a tight lid on things, Claire – fueled by her frequent drive-by’s at the bar – likes to verbally fence with her sister. A parry here, a feint there gives the play much of its brutal wit.
Into the mix come best friends Harry (Rob Donohoe) and Edna (Laura Turnbull) who have been seized by an unknown terror while at home. On top of that, Agnes and Tobias’ daughter Julia (Anne Bates) has come home on the precipice of her fourth divorce.
“A Delicate Balance” won Albee his first Pulitzer (the second was for “Seascape” and the third for “Three Tall Women”). Anderman created the role of Sarah in “Seascape” and played Honey in the first Broadway revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” as well as appearing in “The Lady From Dubuque,” which earned her a Tony nomination. Don’t miss this chance, for who knows when these stars will align again.
“A Delicate Balance” plays Thursdays-Sundays through Jan. 6 at Palm Beach Dramaworks at 201 Clematis Street in West Palm Beach. Performances Thursdays through Saturdays are at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. Matinees are Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $58.75 at 561-514-4042 or PalmBeachDramaworks.org.