A review by Broadway World of "A Delicate Balance" - this was a very enjoyable production to be a part of!
by Jay Irwin
Here in Seattle we are blessed with a ton of theatrical choices. I mean of course there are the big boys, the Rep, ACT, 5th Ave, etc. But we also have those small companies that may not have the funds for a helicopter to land on stage but instead invest their time and tiny amounts of money into turning in some thoughtful and engaging performances. One such company is Theatre 9/12. They perform in a church and I'm sure most of the set is borrowed but their level of theatrical craftsmanship is right up there with the best as is evident in their current production of Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance" with its solid performances that will stay with you all night long.
As with Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" it's a dark comedy of manners. Tobias and Agnes (Terry Edward Moore and Therese Diekhans) are spending a typical night at home with Agnes' witty alcoholic sister Claire (Mary Murfin Bailey) who is living with them. Just another evening of the upper-middle class doling out familial jabs over whatever cocktails are at hand (as Albee does). But then things get a bit more crowded in the house as their 36 year old daughter Julia (Samantha A. Camp) comes home to stay after leaving her fourth husband. And if that weren't enough, their best friends for 40 years, Harry and Edna (Eric Newman and Rachel D. Pate), arrive asking if they too can stay to avoid an unnamed terror. And what follows is an examination of manners and obligation towards the people closest to your life.
Director Charles Waxberg has taken this fine ensemble and practically shoved them in the face of the audience as he's directed the piece in a very intimate in the round setting or should I say in the round and then some as at times the entrances were in between rows of seats. It's a quite dynamic and immersive use of the space that truly makes you a member of the cocktail party (save from actually being offered a cocktail). And the ensemble he's created and the amount of solid work they've put into creating a thought provoking and deep look into these flawed people is obvious.
Diekhans manages a kind of stalwart attitude throughout with her never wavering character that you can't take your eyes off. Bailey creates the perfect foil to her overly proper sister with her freewheeling attitude. Newman and Pate lend a gorgeous carbon copy of Agnes and Tobias except their perfectly ordered existence is having an internal crisis of sorts. And Camp delivers a seething and powerful portrayal of a woman with just a bit too much a sense of entitlement. But it's Moore who completely blows you away as his character goes from amiable husband, friend and father to desperate man searching for some kind of validation. He manages a truly superb arc in the piece and is a joy to behold.
All told, Waxberg and his cast tackle this very complex piece of Albee with gusto, solid work and no fear of getting their hands messy. It's a fine bit of work and really shows what the little guys in town can do. And so I give them a very respectful YAY with my three letter rating system. Sure, everyone wants to catch the big shows but with smaller works like this in town I can't urge you enough to venture beyond the norm and see what else Seattle has to offer.
"A Delicate Balance" from Theatre 9/12 performs at Trinity Parish Church through February 14th, 2015. All tickets are pay what you can. For information visit them online at www.theatre912.com
There was a series of TV ads with Mike Rowe touting Ford cars for their Summer (2013) Sale event. I (and 24 other actors) spent 3 days as extras on the shoot. If you looked closely, you may have recognized me....I was the one in khakis and a short-sleeve navy blue polo. In reality it was cool and rainy, but we were "having fun at a summer picnic" - now that's ACTING!