Penelope Wilton and Imelda Staunton on stage together is an exciting proposition. Maybe it was me being in a bad mood from the off but Albee's A Delicate Balance wasn't the vehicle I would have hoped for for the two of them. An alcohol-soaked family drama, it sees Agnes (Wilton) and Tobias (Tim Pigott-Smith,) who already have Agnes' drunken sister Claire (Staunton) living with them, unexpectedly welcome back daughter Julia (Lucy Cohu) who's just ditched her fourth husband. Also unexpected are their best friends Harry and Edna (Ian McElhinney and Diana Hardcastle) who've had a joint panic attack and decided to move in with them for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately although the performers are as strong as you'd expect, director James Macdonald has opted to have every line delivered at a snail's pace, which not only drags things out interminably but means when sections come up that clearly need to have some time taken over them, the impact is lost. The story also never quite got a handle on how far from realism it wanted to stray - the house guests turn from shivering with fear in the first act to bullying with a sense of entitlement in the second, without this ever being explained. Yet this didn't take the story into the surreal sphere it might have done. Andy was in one of those moods where he's determined to enjoy something, and by the first interval (of two) this held up but by the end he too was disappointed.
A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee is booking until the 2nd of July at the Almeida Theatre.