Monday, 19 January 2015
The Death of Edward Albee
Well he’s not actually dead yet. But his work is. Obviously. I just finished watching the first act of Edward Albee’s A DELICATE BALANCE on Broadway -- starring Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Martha Plimpton, et al – and I was outside enjoying the balmy night air. Two clearly bewildered patrons exited the theatre:
“Well I’m going.”
“Well you’re uncomfortable.”
“I didn’t say I was uncomfortable. I thought you were the uncomfortable one.”
“I never said I was uncomfortable. You said you were.”
“Well, I’m going.”
And with that, she (fake leopard skin coat and tight pants) and he (handsomely coiffed) were off. Of course they could have been talking about the lack of leg room at The Golden. But if they had been watching WE WILL ROCK YOU at the same venue, I doubt there would have been an identical complaint.
Then, when the play was over, I heard this:
“There were an awful lot of lines in that play.”
“Yes there certainly were.”
“I guess that’s why they get paid the big bucks, those actors, for learning all those lines.”
Yes, I sing the sad song of the demise of a great American genius. Edward Albee was once an important playwright. But nowadays people see all too clearly the error of his ways. After all, his work is as dated as hell, because it is dominated by two giant anachronisms of the digital age: words and ideas.
Nobody wants to listen to words anymore. After all, a picture is worth a thousand of them, right? Even tweeting is old fashioned these days-- you can instagram faster. And, after all – YOUTUB E says in a flash what plays and novels used to take hours to tell you in long, boring, complicated words.
Like, as if anyone is going to mourn ‘the death of language.’
And ideas. Well I think we’ve had enough of them. Especially the ideas in A DELICATE BALANCE. This is a play about -- get this – two neighbours who come over one night to Tobias and Agnes’s house, and say that they are ‘afraid’ and that they want ‘succor.’ (What the hell is succour, anyway?). And so what happens? Well Tobias, (the’ Father Figure’) is all conflicted about whether or not to take them in. Can you believe it? He spends the entire play wondering whether or not it would be alright to let the neighbors move in! As if! The play is basically suggesting that some people might, conceivably, put their friends above their family. I mean, come on! If we’ve learned anything by 2015, it’s that ‘family’ is the most important thing in the world. Mom, Dad, two differently gendered kids, dog, cat. That’s it. That’s sacred, man. Nobody threatens my family -- even if he is Goddamn Edward f-ing Albee!
I know for some old folks, saying goodbye to Edward Albee’s A DELICATE BALANCE will be tough. To some, it might feel like saying goodbye to an old friend.
But old friends die too you know, and frankly, they often cease to be relevant long before that.
And listen to me.
Nothing, nowhere, no how, no way, threatens my family.