4/21/2013 4:55 PM
Although first produced in 1966, A Delicate Balance has withstood the changing tide of the American family and social mores of upper-class existence and continues to reflect an honest depiction of a family on the brink of self-destruction. Richly written and acerbically humorous, this play demonstrates how control can shift in a family dynamic. This upheaval tosses the family members about in a tumult of clawing and scratching for a place to belong.
With three, strongly written female roles, this play is an excellent production for any theater looking to showcase the female talent of their company. The rich intricacies of the relationship between sisters, mothers, and daughters plays delicately from loving regard and open acceptance to biting insults and outright hostility. The women stand in judgment of one another and their cruelty and frustration seep openly into their language and lightly veiled abuses.
Acting often as peacekeeper and reluctant patriarch in this turbulent family, Tobias must shift roles between supportive husband, dutiful father and understanding brother-in-law. Add to this the arrival of unexpected houseguests in the form of terrified and unbalanced life-long family friends and the full house erupts into a storm of twisting words, whirling accusations and thunderclaps of anger and resentment. As Tobias tries vainly to assure the comfort of those he loves, or at least feels obligated toward, he is pushed to his breaking point. Tobias finally vents his frustrations in a monologue, described by Mr. Albee in the script as an aria, that explores the ranges of human emotions and acceptance of others and oneself.
With no set changes, A Delicate Balance is easily produced in any type of theater. The affluence of the family is sufficiently indicated through their language making the expensive library-living room setting possible through presentational design.