Monday, September 29, 2014
The set for Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance" was a well appointed suburban house. The Melbourne Civic Theatre is small and intimate so as an audience member, you feel like you are almost a part of the scene. The stage is set up in a corner of the room, so there really isn't any front and center seating. Agnes (Nellie Brannan) and Tobias (Terrance Girard) were in their living room talking and having drinks. Staging wise, there was always a cold distance between these two. The reason for the detached tension slowly became clear because Tobias had an affair and yet the couple stayed together. They also had to weather the loss of a son.
Right now however the couple has to face Agnes' sister Claire (Susan Suomi) who has moved in. Susan presents herself as a new age hippy but her incessant drinking she chalks up to a willful resolve. Julia (Tracy Thompson) is the couples daughter, and she has just returned home after her fourth divorce. She is needy and spoiled often causing a scene when she doesn't get her way.
The most surreal mixture to this perfect storm of characters are the neighbors, Edna (Tori Smith) and Harry (Michael Thompson) who were overwhelmed with an unexplainable sense of fear in their own home. They moved into Julia's old room as they recover. Every scene involved multiple trips to the corner liquor cabinet to mix drinks. Tempers flair in the now crowded home. Tobias has to decide just how much he can give before going insane.
This was my first time at the Melbourne Civic Theatre and it was a wonderful surprise. Managing Artistic Director Peg Girard has created a safe haven for cutting edge theater. After the show, the actors lined up in the lobby to greet people as they left. I got a chance to quickly meet actress Nellie Brannan who had invited me out to see the show. Nellie is also an artist and she might take part in future sketch crawls. If you ever take a weekend get away to the beach, you should look up the Melbourne Civic Theatre and check out a show.