Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 424

Seascape continues Edward Albee’s exploration of human relationships. The Zoo Story (pr. 1959, pb. 1960), his first play; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (pr., pb. 1962), his first full-length play; and A Delicate Balance (pr., pb. 1966), his first Pulitzer Prize-winning play, are all concerned with the relationships that define people’s lives, focusing particularly on the difficulty of communicating honestly. Marriage Play (pr. 1987, pb. 1995) carries the examination of relationships into a failed marriage, with more violent and harsh overtones than Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Three Tall Women, his 1991 play (pb. 1994), continued his exploration with relationships, this time with an autobiographical bent. The play examines the life of a wealthy, cantakerous, elderly woman as she prepares to die. Albee admitted in interviews that the play’s main character was directly inspired by his own adoptive mother, Frances Cotter Albee, who expelled a young Albee from his family’s home for his homosexuality and later removed him from her will. The play won numerous awards, including Albee’s third Pulitzer Prize—his second was for Seascape—and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Albee won a Tony Award for best play in 2001 for The Goat: Or, Who Is Sylvia?

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In many of Albee’s plays there is little outward action; thus attention is focused on the language. Seascape continues this technique. Scholars have generally considered Albee’s use of language to be one of his major assets and contributions to American theater. While Seascape received considerable negative criticism about both its vitality and its language, especially in the production reviews, some critics commended Albee on these same...

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