OK. It was my fault. I was late for last night's evening performance. Heavy rain. Snarled traffic on 8th Avenue. By 6 minutes for the 8 o'clock curtain. And was herded into the Golden Theater's foyer to wait 45 minutes till the first intermission for Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. Twenty-five others waited too, with headsets, watching the play on an overhead monitor. Security gave us a pat down, searched our belongings. "Draconian," exclaimed one woman at the theater's latecomer policy, before she stormed off into the storm. "I'm outta here," announced another prior to leaving too. The glass doors began to steam from the heat. The man next to me had rivulets running down his face. As to that monitor, you could not tell Glenn Close from Lindsay Duncan. It was a very expensive ticket.
At 8:50 we were let in, shown our seats. "You're fashionably late," a woman quipped, letting us move past her into the crowded row; she pointed out some theater-goers on the opposite aisle: Joe Biden with Jill, and, if I was seeing right, they were canoodling. I had a glimmer of satisfaction that I would see the remaining two acts of the play in better seats than theirs. The play, a tour de force of family ferocity, is overwhelming, the cast of high profile stars of movies and theater superb, with John Lithgow and Clare Higgins. As Harry, Bob Balaban at the bar making a cocktail for his wife, missed getting some ice cubes into the glass, and without missing a beat his hostess Agnes (Close) rushed to help him mop up. It was good to see them outside the box: the play under Pam Mackinnon's expert direction, gears aligned to perfection.
Backstage, the cast joked about the evening's celebrity guest. In Act II, Martha Plimpton comes out wielding a gun. (Maybe they are Republicans.) The prop had to be cleared by security ahead of time, as you would expect. "The vice president is here, the vice president is here," recounted someone in the dressing room, marveling at the noise one person could make. To wit, someone asked, the vice president of what company? For me it was an off night at the theater. I don't want my money back. Are you listening Scott Rudin? I'd like a ticket to see it again. Maybe those 25 others would too.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.