A Delicate Balance
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One of Edward Albee's most celebrated works, A Delicate Balance premiered on Broadway in 1966 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1967, the first of three he has received for his work. The play revolves around wealthy middle-aged couple Agnes and Tobias, who have their complacency shattered when their longtime friends Harry and Edna appear at their doorstep. Claiming an encroaching, nameless "fear" has forced them from their own home, these neighbors bring a firestorm of doubt, recrimination and ultimately solace, upsetting the "delicate balance" of Agnes and Tobias's household.
In recent years, A Delicate Balance has enjoyed many and new stunning revivals, running now, including a Broadway production in 1996, which won the Tony Award for Best Revival, and another at the Alameida Theatre in London in 2011.
TOBIAS (Not put off) Some times when it’s going to be Agnes and Tobias, and not just Mother and Dad. Right? Some times when the allowances aren’t going to be made. What are you doing, biting off your fingernails now? JULIA (Not giving in) It broke off. TOBIAS There are some times when it’s all … too much. I don’t know what the hell Harry and Edna are doing sitting up in that bedroom! Claire is drinking, she and Agnes are at each other like a couple of … of … JULIA (Softly) Sisters? TOBIAS
too, sometimes, if I am the only one of you to admit to it: not that I may go mad, but that each of you wonders if each of you might not—why on earth do you want anisette? TOBIAS (Considers) I thought it might be nice. AGNES (Wrinkles her nose) Sticky. I will do cognac. It is supposed to be healthy—the speculation, or the assumption, I suppose, that if it occurs to you that you might be, then you are not; but I’ve never been much comforted by it; it follows, to my mind, that since I speculate
TOBIAS Yes? HARRY She held me. She let me stay awhile, then I could see she wanted to, and I didn’t … so I went back. But it was funny. TOBIAS (Nods) Yeah. HARRY Do you … do you, uh, like Edna … Tobias? TOBIAS (Embarrassed) Well, sure I like her, Harry. HARRY (Pause) Now, Tobias, about last night, and yesterday, and our coming here, now … HARRY TOBIAS I was talking about it to Edna, last night, and I said, “Look, Edna, what do we think we’re doing.” I sat up all night
around HARRY. The two men exit. Silence) EDNA (Stirring her coffee; slightly strained, but conversational) Poor Harry; he’s not a … callous man, for all his bluff. (Relaxing a little, almost a contentment) He … he came to my bed last night, got in with me, I … let him stay, and talk. I let him think I … wanted to make love; he … it pleases him, I think—to know he would be wanted, if he … He said to me … He … he lay there in the dark with me—this man—and he said to me, very softly, and like a
her own bemusement and amusement than anything else) I don’t recall if I ever asked my poor mother that. I do wish sometimes that I had been born a man. JULIA (Shakes her head; very matter-of-fact) Not so hot. AGNES Their concerns are so simple: money and death—making ends meet until they meet the end. (Great self-mockery and exaggeration) If they knew what it was like … to be a wife; a mother; a lover; a homemaker; a nurse; a hostess, an agitator, a pacifier, a truth-teller, a deceiver …