A Delicate Balance

Definition

Theater

  • A play by Edward Albee, first produced in 1966 inNew York's Martin Beck Theatre with Jessica Tandy and her husband,Hume Cronyn, in the leading roles. The play opened in London in 1969at the Aldwych Theatre with Peggy Ashcroft in the lead and Peter Halldirecting. It combines social comedy with suggestions of allegory.

    Set in 1960s America, the story focuses on Agnes (Mommy) andTobias (daddy), a retired couple. When Agnes accuses her husband ofhaving an affair with her alcoholic sister Claire, Tobias respondsby recalling how he once killed a cat who failed to love him. Harryand Edna, their best friends, arrive asking to spend the night becauseof a nameless dread of returning to their home. Agnes is fearful ofletting the couple stay but Tobias extends the invitation. Over the next day, it becomes clear that Harry and Edna intend to move in permanently and that the other characters have no idea what to do about this. When they finally agree to leave, Agnes, who believes herself close to madness, smiles sweetly:

    Agnes Don't become strangers.
    Edna How could we? Our lives are the same.
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