Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Delicate Balance"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone

"A Delicate Balance"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The 232nd show of the 82nd season of Walpole Footlighters is Edward Albee's, "A Delicate Balance". The show is set in the comfortable Connecticut home of a well-to-do family. Agnes is a determined, powerful woman who feels she must hold her husband and family together to present a brave face to the world. Her husband, Tobias, is both retired and retiring, a man who cannot quite face up to life including the death of a son many years ago. Living with the couple is Agnes' sister, Claire, an alcoholic who sees through and scoffs at the insincerity and pretensions around her. Claire's outrageous comments are as much to reflect her own bitterness as they are to shake Tobias out of his mute acceptance of Agnes' dominance. They are soon joined by Harry and Edna, a married couple who are Agnes and Tobias' best friends. They announce, that because of some unnamed fear, they intend to stay indefinitely Their lives are further upended by the return of their spoiled daughter, Julia who returns home from her fourth broken marriage. Agnes and Tobias try to balance social appearances with the stark reality of their dysfunctional lives.

Director Al Morin chooses some topnotch performers to fill these roles. He also designed a gorgeous living room set with seven opaque windows on stage right and an enormous liquor cabinet and bar on stage left. The lighting design by Doug Gordon displays the times of day with evening and morning lighting through the windows with the early morning scene being outstanding. Although the performers are topnotch, the script which might have been unique and clever almost 40 years ago, seems tedious, repetitive and redundant to today's audience. Even with these faults each performer gets to shine in their roles when the script allows them to. Linda Monchik plays the harridan, Agnes who is brittle and cold to everyone around her while Ren Knopf plays the meek and mild, Tobias. He becomes a lion in the last scene with his monologue to Harry. Ninette Pantano Cummings does a great job as the drunken Claire who knows everybody's deep dark secrets. She is a hoot when she plays an accordion in one scene and in her drinking to excess. The best role belongs to Jennifer Cira as the high strung bratty, Julia. Her tantrum scenes are excellent and she brings a lot of life to the static script when she is onstage. Rounding out the cast are Wendy Clarridge Moore and Bob Parsons as the mysterious visitors, Edna and Harry. Their presence in the house isn't really explained and the closing scene with the dialogue becomes tedious and repetitive and confusing. But they do a good job with their underwritten roles. So attend "A Delicate Balance" to see a display of good acting talent.

"A Delicate Balance" (4 - 20 November)
5 Scout Road, WALPOLE MA
1 (508) 668-8446

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide