Tiny Alice debuted on 29 December 1964 in a production directed by Alan Schneider at the Billy Rose Theatre in New York. The drama addresses the crisis of faith arising from the human tendency to represent the infinite and supreme with symbols that—as human constructs—are necessarily limited and inadequate. The action surrounds Julian, a Catholic lay brother who is sent by the Cardinal to negotiate with Miss Alice, a wealthy recluse who purportedly wishes to bestow an enormous sum on the Roman Catholic Church. Within her mansion, Julian finds, besides Alice herself, her lawyer, her butler, and a huge model of the mansion. He is then confronted by a series of bewildering circumstances and events, including Alice's initial appearance as a decrepit old woman and her subsequent revelation as a young woman disguised; a fire in the model mansion which exactly mirrors a simultaneous conflagration in the actual building; and his marriage to Miss Alice, presided over by the Cardinal. In the end, all the characters but Julian engage in a ritual surrounding the model. When Julian refuses to acknowledge the divinity of the miniature Alice within the model, he is shot by the Lawyer. As he slowly dies, he finally announces: "I accept thee, Alice … God, Alice … I accept thy will."
Tiny Alice initially met with critical consternation. John McCarten, for instance, was "bewildered" by the play, and Robert Brustein found it "meaningless" and censured Albee's "sham profundity." Subsequent commentators, while not necessarily judging Tiny Alice a complete success, have found a coherence and meaningfulness that the early reviewers had missed. These critics have focused on the play's exploration of the nature of reality and of the limits of human intellect and rationality when grappling with ideas of God and infinity, which by definition, exceed human reason. Leonard Casper has perhaps best summarized these approaches to the play in his observation that "Tiny Alice is a dramatization of all that must remain tantalizing beyond the mind's reach: all mysteries whose permanence we deny even as impressions of their permanence accumulate in our experience."