The Zoo Story, Albee's first play written as an adult. The one-act premiered in 1959 and suggests the future elements of Albee's work (especially the idea suggested in the title that beneath the illusion of civilization, human beings are essentially animals capable of startling viciousness). In the play, Jerry, an embittered outsider, confronts the conformist Peter on a park bench, inducing him to listen to much of Jerry's life story and then provoking him into defending himself and his way of life.
A Delicate Balance. Albee won his first Pulitzer Prize for this 1966 play, but many considered the award merely belated recognition for Virginia Woolf. This play revolves around similar elements (two couples in a living room engaged in a crisis, the death of a child, the failures of educated and well-intentioned people), causing critics to variously see it either as a compelling counterpoint to Albee's earlier work, or as repetitive imitation of it.
Oh, Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and We're Feeling So Sad by Arthur Kopit, a theatrical parody of the Oedipus complex. This is the best-known play by an experimental dramatist whose work first appeared around the same time as Albee's, and who (along with Jack Gelber) is often discussed in relation to Albee.
Long Day's Journey into Night, one of Eugene O'Neill's dramatic masterpieces. O'Neill is regularly evoked by critics as an influence upon Albee's style, especially this realistic, autobiographical play which unfolds over a long night of emotionally intense dialogue. Albee has joked that critics might only be observing superficially that both plays "have four characters and they talk a great deal and nothing happens," but deeper connections definitely exist. Both O'Neill and Albee, despite their experimentation with a wide variety of styles, remain best known for their more realistic, psychologically complex dramas.