I caught A Delicate Balance at Arena last night. Certainly an evening that makes up for I Love a Piano (and with the company giving us the Broadway-bound Next to Normal and terrific Wishful Drinking they are certainly ahaead for the season — despite Resurrection.). I love the play and it’s a really spiffy production. Just a few passing thoughts:
- This is the first production of the play I’ve seen where Agnes (as played by the amazing Kathleen Chalfant) actually seems like the star of the play. It is a tribute both to the understated ferocity of Chalfant’s stage presence, and the fact that it feels like the director dialed back the role of Claire a bit.
- The thing that has always puzzled me about this play is that most of the conflict comes from having a full house as a result of neighbors Harry and Edna asking to stay due to unnamed terrors at the same time that adult daughter Julia is returning home from a failed marriage. I have never understood why nobody ever floated the idea that Julia stay at Harry and Edna’s empty house.
- The set has one of the most perfectly metaphorical set pieces I’ve ever seen. It is dominated front and center by a large sofa that is filled with five lovely, plump tapestry pillows. However, the mass of these pillows makes it nearly impossible for anyone to sit comfortably on the sofa. I thought it was a perfect metaphor for the lives of these characters.