A Delicate Balance
My proposal to the class is the play A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee. It is a psychologically based drama dealing with the issues and complexities of upper-middle-class suburb dwellers. There are six characters, including two men and four women. All of the characters are in an adult age range.
The plot of the play takes place in the living room of Agnes and Tobias, a middle-aged married couple as their life is disrupted by the coming and going of friends and family with many problems to face. The story opens with Agnes and her husband discussing madness and how easy it would be to go insane. Agnes suddenly finds the notion silly, remembering that she has her husband to take care of, so she cannot go mad. Agnes’ younger sister, Claire, lives with the couple permanently. She is an alcoholic. Drinking serves as a motif throughout the play, many of the characters holding drinks most of the time. In conversation, Claire predicts the ending of Agnes and Tobias’ troubled daughter, Julia’s fourth marriage.
Soon Agnes announces that Julia will be coming home because her marriage, in fact, has ended. Tobias then tells the story of a cat he once had that he had to put down because it no longer liked him. Following this, Harry and Edna arrive. They are Tobias and Agnes’ best friends. They ask if they can stay in the house for a while to escape some unnamed fear.
In act two, the scene begins with Agnes and Tobias discussing the fact that Harry and Edna will be occupying Julia’s old room. This upsets Julia, and she makes this known to Tobias. Tobias brings up all of Julia’s failed marriages. Julia’s brother, who died at a young age, is brought to light. Claire enters and nags Julia about her disordered life. Julia retorts about Claire’s drinking. No one knows what Harry and Edna are running from. Agnes decides it is pointless to press the matter. At the end of scene one, Harry and Edna announce that they are leaving but will return with their suitcases shortly. Scene two begins as Julia and Agnes discuss control and balance. As the suitcases are unloaded, Julia has a tantrum. Agnes reminisces about the death of her son. There is mention of Tobias having been unfaithful, but no one will confirm it. Julia re-enters with a gun in her hand, in hysterics. She demands that Harry and Edna do not stay. It is insisted that they have a right to be there and will stay.
In act three, Agnes...