Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance – Play Synopsis
Tobias, Agnes and her alcoholic sister Claire live in luxury but events of the past continue to affect them and they struggle to maintain A DELICATE BALANCE. But then long time friends Harry and Edna arrive and threaten to tip that balance. Then daughter Julia returns home from her fourth marriage tipping everyone over.
The Director’s Chair By Les Maurseth
“A Delicate Balance”
I was asked to suggest a play I might be interested in directing. I considered Aspirin and Elephants to be a success and was proud of everyone involved in that production. I hadn’t even thought about directing again, until I was asked, so I started looking for another play about LIFE – in theatrical terms, a drama. It’s not easy to find a drama that fits our demographics, but I did.
Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and has been performed hundreds of times with talented actors, many of whom we all know and enjoy.
Some think Albee’s plays and characters are too complex. Some have said they are “dark”. But that’s not the case. The characters are real people with real problems – problems that most of us can relate to. We will show them to you – the real people and the real problems. We have had many spirited discussions about these interesting characters, what they have done and what they should have done. I believe you will have similar spirited discussions once you have seen a performance – possibly even during intermission.
I want to dispel one aspect of the play that some waste time on – why are they there? In the play, Harry and Edna show up at Agnes and Tobias’ home expecting to stay there, expecting to move in. The author’s script does not reveal the reason why they are there. It doesn’t matter why they are there, but I know why. I have read their words many times to figure them out, and I have read a medical article that describes their condition exactly – chronic loneliness.
“Studies show that chronic loneliness triggers an increase of stress hormones such as cortisol and the ‘fight or flight hormones.’ … It can disrupt sleep patterns, increase risk of suicide, precipitate depression, and even affect memory. … Older people suffer … increased risk of heart disease …”
Harry speaks of his shortness of breath (heart) and both speak of being tired and frightened. Clear symptoms of chronic loneliness, although they don’t know it. So, the ‘fight or flight hormones’ cause them to flee their home and go to the only people they feel safe and comfortable with – their best (only?) friends of over 40 years
However, their presence threatens to upset A DELICATE BALANCE that Agnes and Tobias have crafted for themselves. A balance that is already severely tested due to her live-in alcoholic sister (with a salacious past). Then, daughter Julia returns home escaping her fourth failed marriage and it all becomes too much. It unravels dramatically.
Will they be able to recover A DELICATE BALANCE?
Well, with the able help of our Assistant Director Pam Solace, the very talented cast of Betsy Froderman, Sandra Dyke, Chelsea Cantrell, Kassie Walters, Brian Cantrell and I will show you. (Yes, some of them are new to our stage, but I like bringing in new actors. If you’d like to give it a try, let me know! Anytime!)
Pinewood Players: A Flair for the Dramatic?
Everyone knows that a Pinewood Players production can make you laugh. From madcap farces like “Who’s Wives are They Anyway” and “Lend Me a Tenor” to outrageous food fight scenes in “Southern Fried Funeral” Pinewood Players performances have been the source of smiles, chuckles and outright belly laughs for their audiences for years. Musicals such as “Bells are ringing” and “Guys and Dolls” have also provided humor and played to the lighter side of the entertainment spectrum. Munds Park audiences love a good laugh and Pinewood Players has given them many reasons to do just that time after time over the years.
This season Pinewood Players has continued to provide entertainment that elicits smiles and laughter in various settings. “Cahoots,” a madcap dark comedy started off our season with plenty of opportunity to appreciate the quick wit, clever dialog and farcical mayhem. “Annie, Jr.” performed by the combined age Drama Camp tugged at your heartstrings and brought a tear to your eyes and smiles to your faces. The humorous Readers Theater skits again provoked grins, giggles and at times uncontrolled shrieks of laughter. These performances were all meant to satisfy the desire for the lighter side of entertainment that we know Munds Park audiences love.
But do Munds Park theater goers have a taste and appreciation for serious drama? Well, we’re about to find out! This season Pinewood Players will present the first serious drama to be performed on the Pinewood Playhouse stage in more than 10 years, giving audiences the rare opportunity to experience another theater genre that is not often available to theater goers here.
For the season finale opening August 2 Pinewood Players will present the award winning drama “A Delicate Balance” by Edward Albee. The play premiered in 1966 starring Jessica Tandy and Hume Croyn. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1967 and was adapted to a screenplay and made into a movie in 1973 starring Katharine Hepburn, Paul Schofield and Lee Remick. There have been two Broadway revivals of “A Delicate Balance,” one in 1996 which won the Toni Award for Best Play Revival and the other in 2014 that starred John Lithgow and Glenn Close.
Les Maurseth, a veteran of the Pinewood Playhouse main stage will be returning to co-direct with Pam Solace, also a veteran producer and assistant director for the Pinewood Playhouse main stage. Les will also co-star in the play. His prolific acting credits include “Bells are Ringing”,” Wrong Window,” “Blyth Spirit,” “Be My Baby,” “Bus Stop” and “Southern Fried Funeral.” In his directorial debut, Les directed a remarkable production of “Aspirin & Elephants” last season and we are looking forward to enjoying both his acting and directing work again. Les, Pam and a very talented cast including both veteran and first time actors will be challenged with bringing the audience this deep look into the lives of an affluent husband and wife who for years have maintained a very delicately balanced relationship, tip-toeing around events of the past. That tenuous balance is threatened by conflict brought into their lives by complicated relationships with an alcoholic sister, close friends who show up unexpectedly and ask to stay indefinitely and their own daughter who returns home from her fourth failed marriage. These factions collide on the stage, tipping the scale and threatening to upset the” delicate balance” they have strained to maintain.
Will Munds Park audiences take to the dramatic? We don’t know for sure. But to provide a balanced exposure to the theater experience this season Pinewood Players is going to put it on the line for our audiences to decide. We hope you will enjoy the diversity of entertainment and appreciate the versatility and talents of our directors and actors to take on a totally different genre than is customary on the Pinewood Playhouse stage. “A Delicate Balance” is a “must see” if for no other reason than to provide your feedback regarding what best suits your cultural entertainment preferences and tastes. Perhaps a diverse mix of farcical slap stick humor, light entertainment and serious drama could be a successful formula for the future. Pinewood Players will provide this diversity this season and give our audiences the opportunity to opine. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience a truly different facet of Pinewood Players. You may be surprised by the sheer entertainment value of this riveting, thought provoking production!