‘A Delicate Balance’: absurd fun

John Renner seeks comfort in Daphne Starling's arms in "A Delicate Balance." Photo by Adam J. Manley.

An equal amount of patience and practicality is required to maintain a number of conflicted relationships in the theater department’s presentation of Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance.”

As fate would have it, these are precisely the same qualities required to watch it.

The first act of opening night was enjoyable, but it seemed to drag on and on without end. Whether this was a temporary slump on the part of the actors, or simply Albee’s advanced writing assaulting an audience not prepared for its complexity remains unclear.

It could be, though, that the first act is primarily a setup for absolutely thrilling second and third acts.

Sarah Griswold and John Renner discuss alcohol and family dysfunctions in the winter play, “A Delicate Balance.”
Photo by Adam J. Manley.

As a theater student here at Clackamas, my review may be seen as automatically biased. But it gives me a perspective on the play most do not possess: I know these actors. I’ve seen them perform. I’ve performed with them. I know what they’re capable of. And still, somehow, they surprised me.

The second and third acts reeled me in like the most gullible of fish. These were not the people I knew. These were Agnes, Tobias, Claire, Julia, Harry and Edna. They took a person accustomed to seeing the seams of a play, knowing how things were done and what all the tricks were, and they fooled me.

For those whose job it is to lie, and lie convincingly, there is no greater achievement.

With that in mind, I suspect the lackluster first act is simply due to my inability to understand Albee’s writing straight off. It takes a little time for the mind to adjust, unless one has read the play in advance.

So I, for one, will be seeing the play again. Modern culture accepts the notion of movies that must be seen more than once to fully grasp. Why, then, should that standard not be applied to plays?

“A Delicate Balance” plays Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 for seniors and students with ID.


This review was originally published in The Clackamas Print.

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