A Delicate Balance

Written by Edward Albee

Monday 1st March to Saturday 6th March 1976

Directed by Spokey Wheeler

How easily the delicate balance of life is unsettled when change is in the air.

AuthorEdward Albee

Edward Albee (b 1928)

Albee was born in Virginia, USA and adopted by a wealthy theatre owner and his wife. A restless young man, he was expelled from several schools and colleges and left home permanently in his early teens. He supported himself with odd jobs while learning to write plays and his first work, 'The Zoo Story' was first staged in Berlin. Best known for 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?', Albee's works are considered well-crafted, often unsympathetic examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflect a mastery and Americanisation of the Theatre of the Absurd and he is credited with helping to reinvent the post-war American theatre in the early 1960s by his daring mix of theatricalism and biting dialogue. Albee continues to experiment in new works and has dedicated much of his time to promoting American university theatre. He spoke frequently at colleges and served as a professor at the University of Houston from 1989 to 2003.

PlayA Delicate Balance

A Delicate Balance premiered in 1966 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1967, the first of three Albee received for his work. It also received a Tony award nomination in that year. The plot centres around the uneasy existence of upper middle-class suburban couple; Agnes and Tobias, and their permanent house-guest Claire (who also happens to be Agnes' sister and an alcoholic to-boot). They have evolved a bizarre, yet workable relationship, but their lives are disrupted by the sudden appearance of their best friends Harry and Edna who ask to stay with them to escape an unnamed terror. They are soon followed by Agnes and Tobias's grown-up daughter Julia, who returns home bitter and unhappy following the collapse of her fourth marriage. Julia is none too pleased to find her position as nurtured guest has been usurped by Harry and Edna. The play's 1996 revival also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play & the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play

The Bench Production

A Delicate Balance poster image

This play was staged under Bench Theatre's original company name of Theatre Union, at their theatre in West Street. It was actually the building in West Street, Havant where most of the Company's early plays were staged, which was called the Bench Theatre (after its prior use as a magistrates' court). The company's name was changed gradually by word of mouth and general usage between the years 1973 - 1977 when reviewers, and then members themselves, gradually stopped referring to Theatre Union and started calling the company of players 'Bench Theatre'. The new Company name of Bench Theatre was adopted in to all the promotional literature after they moved from the old theatre (which had been their home for nearly 7 years) in to the Old Town Hall building in East Street.


AgnesSharon Rose
TobiasPeter Corrigan
ClaireJen Jones
EdnaRobbie Cattermole
HarryPeter Duncan
JuliaIngrid Corrigan


Director Spokey Wheeler
Stage Manager Jill Duncan
Set Design Peter Holding
Front of House Ray Osborne
Publicity Tim Mahoney


The NewsJ.E.

Albee play provides the crucial test

Havant Theatre Union's vaunted reputation underwent a thorough examination last night - and emerged with creditable success. The test was provided by Edward Albee's 'A Delicate Balance' which demanded a high calibre of acting to ensure its poignant message made the fullest impact. There were so many potential pitfalls, which confronted by players of lesser standing, could have obscured all these intentions. A slightly Anglicized American accent to suit the setting - a Boston in the 1960s was the basic requirement, and this was cultivated perfectly. Equally each character was crucial to the plot, and the casting could hardly have been better.

Jen Jones as Claire, fulfilled all these intentions of interspersing the play's more serious moments with comic relief. She was irresistible as an alcoholic with a razor-sharp wit and an insatiable desire for disrupting any superficial harmony her sister Agnes (Sharon Rose) and brother-in-law Tobias (Peter Corrigan) attempted to create. Her talent for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time really cam in to its own when the couple's daughter Julia (Ingrid Corrigan) arrived home after the break-up of her fourth marriage to find her room taken by her parents' friends, Harry (Peter Duncan) and Edna (Robbie Cattermole). The guests bring with them an unknown fear and the crisis that develops even stifles Claire's drink-inspired revelry. That crisis intensifies, and as the play reaches a shattering climax, the guests are forced to make a crucial decision. 'A Delicate Balance' directed by Spokey Wheeler, runs at the Bench Theatre, West Street until Saturday, each performance beginning at 7.30 p.m.

The News, Tuesday 2nd March

Production Photographs