‘A Delicate Balance’ falls flat

When you put a bunch of great actors together (including no less than Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Lindsay Duncan, Bob Balaban, Clare Higgins and Martha Plimpton) and get them to perform a Pulitzer-winning drama (by no less than Edward Albee), you expect fireworks.

But the starry new Broadway revival of Albee’s 1966 drama “A Delicate Balance” is surprisingly flat and likely to disappoint both those unfamiliar with the three-act play, as well as those who still remember its much acclaimed revival from two decades ago with Elaine Stritch and Rosemary Harris.

Set in the suburban home of upper-middle-class couple Agnes and Tobias (Close and Lithgow), who reside with Agnes’ inebriated and jesting sister Claire (Duncan), their lives are upended by the arrivals of their daughter Julia (Plimpton), fresh from her latest breakup, and their friends Harry and Edna (Balaban and Higgins), who insist that they cannot return to their own house for an unknown and mysterious reason.

Much of the play is spent debating whether Harry and Edna have a “right” to find sanctuary with Agnes and Tobias. Julia, who is especially angered by their presence, demands that they leave her old bedroom, and goes so far as to pull out a gun. Meanwhile, Agnes, who has an air of regality and composure, and Tobias, who is generally passive, fail to do anything.

Despite the witty lines and a handful of exciting moments, the production is a three-hour, very static bore. Pam MacKinnon, who directed the 2012 Broadway revival of Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, never manages to combine these accomplished performers into a unified ensemble. Perhaps that balance will be reached as the run continues.


If you go: “A Delicate Balance” plays at the Golden Theatre through Feb. 22. 252 W. 45th St., ADelicateBalanceBroadway.com