@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.
 

A Delicate Balance

By Edward Albee, directed by Ceil Herman

  • (L to R) Wynne Broms (Agnes), Katie Richardson (Julia), Cindy Murrell (Claire) and David Edwards (Tobias)
  • (L to R) Katie Richardson (Julia) and David Edwards (Tobias)
  • (L to R) Wynne Broms (Agnes), Cindy Murrell (Claire), Katie Richardson (Julia) and Carmen Call (Edna)
  • (L to R) Cindy Murrell (Claire) David Edwards (Tobias)
  • (L to R) Wynne Broms (Agnes) and David Edwards (Tobias)
  • (L to R) Jeff Peckhan (Harry) and David Edwards (Tobias)
  • (L to R) Carmen Call (Edna) Jeff Peckhan (Harry)
  • (L to R) Katie Richardson (Julia), David Edwards (Tobias) and Wynne Broms (Agnes)
  • (L to R) Wynne Broms (Agnes) and Davd Edwards (Tobias)
  • (L to R), David Edwards (Tobias), Wynne Broms (Agnes), Katie Richardson (Julia) and Cindy Murrell (Claire)

Jul 23-Sep 15, 2010

FRI JUL 23,30 AUG 6,13*| 8:00 PM
SAT JUL 24,31 AUG 7,14*| 8:00 PM
SUN AUG 1,8,15*| 2:30 PM
THU AUG 5 | 7:00 PM
* RUN EXTENDED

Description

No Strings Theatre Company opens its Tenth Season with "A Delicate Balance" the 1967 Pulitzer Prize winning play about friendship, loyalty and family ties by the well-known American playwright, Edward Albee, directed by NSTC's Artistic Director, Ceil Herman. The play runs July 23 through August 8 at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N Downtown Mall in Las Cruces.

Born in 1928, Albee was greatly influenced by Theatre of the Absurd playwrights Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, and Jean Genet as well as Henry James and T.S. Eliot. Several of his one act plays, including "The Zoo Story" and "The American Dream" were produced Off-Broadway. In 1963, the Pulitzer Prize committee recommended his play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?" for the prize, but the nomination was rejected and no award was given that year. He subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize twice more after "A Delicate Balance," in 1975 for "Seascape" and in 1994 for "Three Tall Women," Albee is a member of the Dramatists Guild, received a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005, the Gold Medal in Drama in 1980 and the Kennedy Center Honors and National Medal of Arts in 1996. "Seascape," was directed by Herman for No Strings Theatre Company in September, 2000, with the opening of the Black Box Theatre.

A Delicate Balance," deals with the meaning of friendship and loyalty. Agnes and Tobias are an older married couple, relatively content with their life in surburbia, except for the presence of Agnes' sister Claire who drinks too much and their daughter Julia who returns home every time one of her marriages breaks up. Then their best friends Harry and Edna arrive, too afraid to stay in their own home. When they express that they have come to live with Agnes and Tobias, this drastically tilts all the relationships in the family. Agnes and Tobias need to come to terms with crisis and Tobias must ask what he owes his friends and what debt he has to their friendship.

Albee was interested in the idea of the balance in relationships from very early in his playwriting career. In "The City of People," an early 3 act play written by Albee in 1949, "delicate balance" refers to "that shading between love and hate that exists between anybody who cares for one another." Likewise, in the play "The Invalid, a young man says: "I fear for that terrible day maybe when you're thirty, maybe later, when you find yourself skidding toward middle age with nothing to show for your youth, all of it a blank, a waste... The balance has been delicate for some time."

"A Delicate Balance" contains many autobiographical elements. Agnes, Tobias, and Agnes' sister Claire are inspired by Frances and Reed Albee. Albee's adoptive parents and Frances' sister Jane. Jane was an alcoholic and houseguest. Daughter Julia resembles Albee's cousin Barbara, one of his Aunt Ethyl's two adopted daughters. His mother's elegant home in Larchmont was the setting for "A Delicate Balance." Albee felt very strongly that the audience to needed understand that the family presence on stage was very strong as well as the real possibility of invasion from their friends. There are entertaining, perceptive, and multi-dimensional roles for all six characters in "A Delicate Balance." The original cast was Hume Cronin and Jessica Tandy as Tobias and Agnes when the play opened on Broadway in 1966. A later production on Broadway stared Rosemary Harris as Agnes, George Grizzard as Tobias, and Elaine Stritch as Claire.

Credits

Agnes
Claire
Edna
Harry
Julia
Tobias
Costume Design
Director
Scenic And Lighting Designer
Written By

Reviews

Keeping 'A Delicate Balance'
NSTC cast is 'top notch' and direction is 'masterful'

- By Gerald M. Kane, Las Cruces Bulletin


How very appropriate the No Strings Theatre Company's Producer Ceil Herman selected a martini glass as the logo for her current production of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize winning drama "A Delicate Balance" which kicks off NSTC's 11th season.

For if we were to measure the volume of liquor consumed by the six characters in the play during the course of the three-act drama, we could probably float a few toy ships in a bathtub. (Of course, the actors are not drinking alcohol during the performance, or else they could never deliver their lines with such precision, feeling and skill.)

The characters in this play are adrift is a sea of numbness brought on by their daily "afternoon cocktails" ... which extend into dinner, the next day and even into the following morning's breakfast. Albee shows us the effect of how the alcohol affects the behaviors of the characters, sometimes masking their anger and depression, sometimes providing the courage to address an adversary or confront a fear or a demon, imagined or not.

This remarkable drama was written forty-three years ago. It examines issues that confront us today. As is the case with most great works of theatre and literature, "A Delicate Balance" is timeless and enduring.

Over the course of the play we are given the chance to contemplate the meaning of our own fears, our own reaction to aging, the meaning of marriage, and the value of friendship.

Albee is a wordsmith and has three Pulitzer prizes, numerous Tony awards and universal accolades to show for it. His plays are studied in English and drama programs around the world because the issues, which he examines in depth - in beautiful, almost poetic language - speak to our hearts with clarity and insight.Because Albee inserts numerous monologues in his plays, one must bring a thoughtful and open mind to his productions.

The scripts are a challenge to the actors, and Herman has assembled a top-notch cast for this excellent production. Her direction of these pros is masterful.

Wynne Broms plays Agnes, the "fulcrum" of the teetering family with force and wit. Her effect is strong, understanding, acerbic and harsh, as it is written. This clearly demonstrates Broms' skill, because in the "real world" I know she has none of these harsh traits. Her skill in delivering the monologues written for her, especially in the final act, is exceptional.

David Edwards plays Tobias, Agnes' husband with subtlety. His motto, which he pronounces at the beginning of the play, is "We do what we can." In other words, when life gives him lemons, he mixes himself a lemon drop - or any other drink that's handy. It is not until his extraordinary monologue about his friendship at the play's end, do we understand the stress he so cleverly keeps hidden.

Cindy Murrell's Claire, the alcoholic sister of Agnes is portrayed with razor sharpness. She provides many of the laughs in this serious, contemplative work, and is the perfect foil to Broms' Agnes.

Katie Richardson's bombastic portrayal of Agnes and Tobias' daughter Julia is "spot on." The supporting players, Carmen Call and Jeff Peckham as the "best friends" Edna and Harry add a degree of strangeness and uncertainty to move the plot along.

Peter Herman's subtle lighting on his timeless contemporary set helps us focus on the action throughout.

In sum, Ceil Herman's very clear vision, so beautifully executed by a talented cast, provides an exceptional production of an important drama that brings home a strong and deep message.

I was fortunate to review Albee's "Seascape" when it opened the Black Box Theatre ten years ago. What a blessing it is for our community to have this exceptional and visionary theater company here. Happy Birthday Black Box Theatre! May you continue to thrive and grow and bring us great and important theater for many years to come.

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