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Play by Edward Albee. Directed by Anthony Page.

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Albee returns to the land of middle class suburban America which he explored to such biting effect in his classic, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?.
Edward Albee's Pulitzer-Prize winning A Delicate Balance is a caustically funny and moving exploration of love, compassion and the bonds of friendship and family. Agnes and Tobias, a middle-aged couple, are engaged in a battle of wills with Agnes' sister Claire, a self-professed drunk, and their daughter Julia, who has returned home after a fourth failed marriage. Their equilibrium is further jeopardised by the sudden arrival of their best friends, Edna and Harry, a couple seeking refuge in an already threatened home.
Albee won the first of three Pulitizer Prizes for A Delicate Balance - the other plays being Three Tall Women and Seascape. Recently Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Three Tall Women have enjoyed hugely successful runs in the West End.
This revival of Albee's 1966 play comes into the West End after a short regional tour and the cast features Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins, John Standing, Annette Crosbie, Sian Thomas and James Laurenson.

HAYMARKET Theatre, Previewed 15 October, Opened 21 October 1997, Closed 4 April 1998

Extracts from the reviews
"Maggie Smith and Eileen Atkins turn in a terrific double-act as a pair of all-American sister's in...Anthony Page's wonderful staging of A Delicate Balance...Set in a swanky, pillared home where it would be more comfortable to be photographed than to live, Page's staging has the cutting, meticulous psychological truth of his recent A Doll's House. It richly illustrates one of Edward Albee's main claims to classic status: the ability to speak the same words with a slightly different significance to succeeding generations." The Independent

"...Eileen Atkins as the hostess Agnes...Maggie Smith as her incorrigible alcoholic sister, Claire...both absolutely fabulous...Albee's 1966 long night's journey into day is a three-act contest of boozer takes all. Or nothing. The country house in Connecticut, in Anthony Page's blistering revival, designed by Carl Toms, is a neoclassical booklined temple with Corinthian pillars...Annette Crosbie and James Laurenson, both superb...A tremendous evening..." The Daily Mail

"I mean no disrespect when I say Dame Maggie Smith is the most extraordinary drunk. A few years ago she gave a hilariously, heart-tuggingly sad performance as the alcoholic vicar's wife in Alan Bennett's imcomparable Talking Heads series. In Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance (1966) she plays another unforgettable boozer, Claire, who knocks back the vodka, plays the accordion and keeps up a snide running commentary on the action as she halts her strait-laced, control freak of a sister. She's absolutely terrific. The great danger of letting Maggie Smith loose among other actors, however, is that she is inclined to commit grand larceny on the show. It doesn't happen here thanks to Anthony Page's direction and some of the finest supporting actors in town. In particular Eileen Atkins proves she is one of the greatest actresses we have and that her DBE is long overdue...Though it is undoubtedly blessed with the same mordant wit, A Delicate Balance lacks the knockout emotional punch of Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?...In the final analysis, A Delicate Balance is a second-rate play. There's no doubt, however, that this production flatters it magnificently." The Daily Telegraph

"...Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance was first performed in 1966, soon after his Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and, although it proved commercially less successful, it was and remains an equally impressive piece. It is less scathing, less verbally energetic. At times its Henry James dialogue leaves you feeling that silver sugar tongs are moving the words. But it expresses the same scepticism about relationships in a richer, subtler way...Anthony Page's fine production...the performance of the evening comes from Atkins..." The Times

 
 
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