28 May 2011

A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee

Agnes - Penelope Wilton
Tobias - Tim Pigott-Smith
Claire - Imelda Staunton
Edna - Diana Hardcastle
Harry - Ian McElhinney
Julia - Lucy Cohu

Directed by James Macdonald and designed by Laura Hopkins

Seen mid-run during it's revival at the Almeida in Islington in what I shall now declare is one of the best two seats in the house.

Such is the downward trend in my theatre-going, I had completely forgotten how easy it is to park for free in that part of Islington on a Saturday afternoon. So I struggled with buses and the shoppers of Upper Street unnecessarily but for a great reward.

This is a rambling Albee but it exposes so much truth in the glorious mouthpiece of Agnes, so perfectly portrayed by the radiant Ms Wilton. Her considered conversations with Tobias are beautifully balanced with the hilariously understated antics of Claire.

I'm sure all the proper reviews have declared every detail this production as a triumph. That such a wordy, long piece can hold the audience in the silence never heard from the wandering minds of fidgets, is enough accolade to commend it.

As the lights went down on for the start of the final act, I felt reassured that the denouement would unravel satisfactorily but this comfort afforded me the chance to be completely intoxicated by the choice of Agnes' dressing gown. The action begins when the light is still low in the sky as it struggles through the side window and this gown might have had it's own individual LEDs lifting the folds and form of Ms Wilton as she glides around the stage. I'm only sad there isn't a better picture of it readily available.