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Director Patrick Felton steadies 'A Delicate Balance'

WANT TO GO? "A Delicate Balance"WHERE: Alban Arts Center, 65 Olde Main St., St. AlbansWHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and May 3-4; 2 p.m. Sunday and May 5TICKETS: Adults $15, seniors and students $10INFO: 304-721-8896 or CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance" comes to the Alban Arts Center on Friday. The Pulitzer Prize-winning black comedy is not as well-known as Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" but it also deals with a marriage, the use of alcohol and what is real.Director Patrick Felton spoke with the gazz about the production and what it was like to direct his father, Mark Felton, in the lead role. Q: What do I need to know about "A Delicate Balance"?A: "This is Edward Albee's follow-up to 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' He won the Pulitzer for this one, his first Pulitzer." ["Woolf" was selected to win but, ultimately, was overruled by the Pulitzer Prize's advisory committee.]"The plot is a little complicated. You have a married couple in their mid- to late-'60s named Agnes and Tobias. Agnes's alcoholic sister is living with them, and it's implied that Claire had an affair with Tobias."Suddenly, the couple is visited by their two best friends, who've fled their house for some unknown terror. They're also visited by their adult daughter, Julia, whose fourth marriage has fallen apart."All of this sort of disrupts the delicate balance of happiness and stasis in Agnes and Tobias's house."
 Q: This seems like a pretty serious play for a first-time director. What attracted you to it?
A: "It's not my first time directing, exactly. I directed in college, five or six years ago, but this is the first time I've done it in a long time. I really felt this was the play I wanted to come back on the stage with."I read this first when I was 11 or 12. I found a play anthology that had a copy of 'A Delicate Balance' in it. I remember reading it while I was on a Bill Hogan commercial shoot in the mid-1990s, and I thought it was the most hilarious thing."Obviously, I didn't understand any of it, but I thought it was funny that the characters were treating each other so brutal, which was so very different from the happy family I came from. I found it utterly unfathomable and hilarious."I read it now, and I look at the people around me. I know tons of displaced youth, people who've had to crawl back into the nest with their parents. I know alcoholics and people with bad marriages."I read this play and I openly weep. I understand it now." 
Q: You direct your father in this play. What's that like?A: "I don't want to make it sound like I pre-cast the play, but I heard my father's voice when I was reading the script. That said, he was also one of two males who showed up to audition for a play with two male leads."I've worked with him before. He was in the play I directed in college, which I thought was a positive experience. My father has been doing theater for 16 or 17 years, always in these very controlled situations. I guess part of my curiosity with having him play Tobias was to put him, as an actor, in situations where the stasis sort of falls apart. I've never seen that before, and the results were some very interesting things."He surprised even me."Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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