This Week in Theater
Written by Edward Albee
Review by Rose Desena
Family dysfunction always makes for interesting theater. As a matter of fact, thinking about it, many good playwrights like Sam Sheppard used this very subject successfully throughout their writing careers. Surprisingly, as profound as this might sound, it’s still an entertaining topic.
“A Delicate Balance,” written by Edward Albee, does not deal with the usual issues like incest or physical abuse; instead, he explores a family’s lack of respect and a nonexistent sense of reality with a little fear thrown in. The fear is on the sidelines but slips in and out like a ghost.
Albee is a product of the Bohemian Generation that resisted their wealth and privilege. His work reflects the intellect and sophistication that make for great writing. This might be why he has won three Pulitzers. “A Delicate Balance” was born in the 60s, a time of clear social separation from the very life this play depicts.
Susan Sullivan (Agnes) comes to the Odyssey from the successful TV show Castle. She was the perfect choice to play the detached wife and mother who pats herself on the back regularly for maintaining a family that suffers from complete absence. Her performance is captivating as she squares off with the twisted and cantankerous hostility that pours out of the other members of the household as they gather around the family room bar.
David Selby (Tobias) is also stellar as her patient husband who can’t seem to define his self-impotence. He is a man plagued by secrets and pain much like the rest but lacks the guts to deal with anything emotional. He prides himself on tolerance. His emptiness is a bit scary; it’s as if he returned from a war with PTSD.
Alcohol plays an important role. The catalyst for their survival and the only time the family can interact is when they are drinking. Claire (O-Lan Jones) is magnificent as the alcoholic sister of Agnes. Tobias’ weak personality shines through as he makes suggestions to Claire that she return to a treatment center for her drinking, but he allows her to drink and at times even encourages it.
Julia (Deborah Puette) is their daughter who returns home after another failed marriage. An adult woman’s return home to a house she clearly hates is fascinating as you question why she not only repeatedly punishes herself with her parents, but never stops to ask why she is a marriage “loser.”
When two friends come over with a rather silly problem, Agnes and Tobias have a mutiny on their hands, and everyone has to do a little soul-searching that reveals more to this beautifully written story.
If I were Agnes and Tobias, I would have thrown the whole lot of them out and moved to France, but then how would they live without all the drama?
Robin Larsen (Director) executes the production with precision, and she keeps the high standards of the Odyssey we have learned to expect. “A Delicate Balance” is timeless theater with well-trained actors and a highly competent crew.
This is a go see. I think the wine night sounds like fun. I love the lobby events at the Odyssey
“A DELICATE BALANCE”
Written by Edward Albee
Directed by Robin Larsen
Cast: Mark Costello, O-Lan Jones, Lily Knight, Deborah Puette, David Selby and Susan Sullivan.
Odyssey Theatre 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025
(310) 477-2055 ext. 2 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com