Critical Context

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Tiny Alice is one of Edward Albee’s more mystifying dramatic scripts; however, its themes recur in several of his plays. The Zoo Story (pr. 1959) dramatizes middle-class complacency in conflict with the desperation of a societal outsider to communicate. Box and Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (pr. 1968), about apathy as self-destruction and committed action as its remedy, portray human isolation as a direct consequence of passivity in the arts as well as in life. Listening (pr., pb. 1977) illustrates both the internal and the interactive alienation effects of not listening.

Moreover, Albee repeats these themes within the context of familial relationships. The Sandbox (pr., pb. 1960) and The American Dream (pr., pb. 1961) present society’s denigration of the aged as well as the pretenses and the sterility of marital relationships most vividly dramatized in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (pr., pb. 1962). A Delicate Balance (pr. 1966) demonstrates the effects of a series of crises upon individuals and their relationships. In this script, Albee also investigates the stress caused by balancing one’s own needs with those of others. In Seascape (pr., pb. 1975), two couples, one human and one fictional intelligent water animals, focus on the necessity of, and the resistance to, change for survival. The Lady from Dubuque (pr., pb. 1980) exhibits strains of both...

(The entire section is 450 words.)