A Delicate Balance at Arena

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.
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