REVIEW: A DELICATE BALANCE
at The Edge Theater
by Devon James
When I work on a production in any regard, I first ask myself two questions:
1.) Why was this piece relevant to the times; what was the World going through?
2.) Why is it relevant to today?
Truthfully, I’m not quite sure the answer on either question is addressed in A DELICATE BALANCE at The Edge Theater. In this production, we have an upper-middle class, WASP couple, Agnes & Tobias (Martha Harmon Pardee & Kevin Hart), who are currently hosting their alcoholic, accordion playing sister/sis in-law, Claire (Emma Messenger). They are then graced with even more drama by their serial bride of a daughter, Julia (Maggy Stacy), and their dearest friends fleeing “darkness,” Edna & Harry (Abby Apple Boes & Steve Emily).
We can certainly pull from themes like, fear, regret, change, etc., and drop them into where we were in the 60’s or even today, but I’m not quite sold that this would be the intention of the script. Edward Albee has created something here that I would bet money is one of those experiences you either go crazy over (I mean, can we say “Pulitzer”) or walk away wondering what just happened to your Three Plus Hours. There is indeed a “delicate balance” between the absurd and normalcy, and the Edge’s production definitely attempts to walk the line. However, it wasn’t necessarily the overall message as much as the moment to moment story that had me scratching my head. Edward Albee is no stranger to a level of absurdity in his work, but this sort of “pile in” of information and characters (much of which seems a bit left field), proves not only challenging for the audience, but seemingly for the performers as well. The flow of the play is difficult to follow and the trigger points for the characters were manic and inconsistent. It all kind of happened, and then it was over. Of course, something to note about this play is the specificity of it from Albee (the notes he left are far more extensive and specific than most playwrights provide), and I am not familiar enough to know how much liberty Director Warren Sherrill or the cast took.
What I loved about this particular production was the groundedness and honesty of the cast, even in moments I can imagine were uncomfortable to step into (aka: Julia’s panic attack over the drink cart). We find ourselves saying, “What? Where did that come from?” and “Why are they reacting that way?” or “Seriously, why are your grown adult friends fleeing the dark?” There are so many unanswered questions. It’s not quite absurd enough for us to accept the absurdity and not quite real enough for us to feel for these characters and ride along on their individual journeys.
What you’ll find in this particular production was the relentless commitment to what they’ve created and an open welcoming door from the Edge Theater. The Edge is loyal to their Patrons, Staff, and Talent. From the outside looking in over the years, I have learned how well they value their community and the new work of local writers. In a world full of theatres that choose their seasons solely based on sales, it is nice to know that the Edge is one of those Companies that prefers to offer something you might not get anywhere else in town. Even if we walk away in confusion, or distaste for the particular piece, you can bet their following will be back for another round.
For more information on A DELICATE BALANCE and the Edge Theater Company, visit: www.theedgetheater.com.
PHOTO CREDIT: RDG Photography