Cottesloe Theatre, London SE1
Opened 8 May, 2001

*** A not so delicate balance

Playwright Edward Albee fell out of favour in the 1980s; on the strength of this patchy double bill, one can rather see why.

Marriage Play, written in 1987, was first staged at Vienna's English Theatre; Finding The Sun (1983) in a student production directed by the author. Albee's wilderness years, between the first highs of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? and A Delicate Balance and the rediscovered power of Three Tall Women, show flashes of power amid wide stretches of formal exercise.

In Marriage Play, a middle-aged couple dissect their thirty years together, trying to break up and apparently never quite succeeding. Bill Paterson is on fine form as the rumpled, oddly vain Jack, Sheila Gish even better as jaded, sardonic Gillian. They begin by pointing out literary echoes in an old diary, and end in knock-down, drag-out fisticuffs.

Finding The Sun depicts four couples on a New England beach; the two younger husbands are former gay lovers. Various dialogues and monologues illuminate the characters' perspectives on happiness or at least accommodation in marriage and life, but it's a stagey, theoretical light rather than the natural sunlight suggested by the title.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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