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Three Tall Women PDF, ePub eBook Earning a Pulitzer and three Best Play awards for 1994, Edward Albee has, in Three Tall Women, created a masterwork of modern theater. As an imperious, acerbic old woman lies dying, she is tended by two other women and visited by a young man. Albee's frank dialogue about everything from incontinence to infidelity portrays aging without sentimentality. His scenes are charge Earning a Pulitzer and three Best Play awards for 1994, Edward Albee has, in Three Tall Women, created a masterwork of modern theater. As an imperious, acerbic old woman lies dying, she is tended by two other women and visited by a young man. Albee's frank dialogue about everything from incontinence to infidelity portrays aging without sentimentality. His scenes are charged with wit, pain, and laughter, and his observations tell us about forgiveness, reconciliation, and our own fates. But it is his probing portrait of the three women that reveals Albee's genius. Separate characters on stage in the first act, yet actually the same "everywoman" at different ages in the second act, these "tall women" lay bare the truths of our lives—how we live, how we love, what we settle for, and how we die. Edward Albee has given theatergoers, critics, and students of drama reason to rejoice.

30 review for Three Tall Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    Book Review I enjoyed this play, but it was not my favorite in Albee's collections. This one show conflicts that people face on a daily basis in today’s society. It crosses reality and slices of life with a bitter or biting sense of accuracy. Are the 3 women truly the same person or do they just show characteristics of a woman at different stages in her life? The play deals with a multitude of situations people face as they age. It's meant to push readers or viewers into thinking beyond thei Book Review I enjoyed this play, but it was not my favorite in Albee's collections. This one show conflicts that people face on a daily basis in today’s society. It crosses reality and slices of life with a bitter or biting sense of accuracy. Are the 3 women truly the same person or do they just show characteristics of a woman at different stages in her life? The play deals with a multitude of situations people face as they age. It's meant to push readers or viewers into thinking beyond their immediate reactions, questioning an entire atmosphere of impact on human life. Albee was a treasure in that he was able to accomplish so much in so little, meaning with just a single play or book, he can leave your mind thinking for months about what it all means. One of the biggest contributions of Edward Albee would be the theatre that he formed in New York for new playwrights. Each playwright would put on his/her play for a few productions throughout one weekend. They would gain some experience, an audience, and recognition. Almost all of today’s famous and popular playwrights crossed Albee’s stage at some point. Another important contribution that Albee made to modern drama was his idea that each play needed to stand on its own. They should remain entirely separated from the author’s own life or problems. He also wanted to change the way that people looked at themselves. These two contributions combined are very important to modern drama. There needs to be a separation between playwright and play in order for both to be objective. Albee may have had some trouble following his own contributions a few times though. He tried to forget about his adoption and the effect it had on him, but somehow it seeps through to some of his plays. Albee is a very modern man himself. The focus of most of his plays was rarely stuck in the 1940s or 1950s, when he was initially writing. He writes stories that deal with problems evolving during the 1960s, and 1970s. Today, there is a focus on existentialist ideas and introspective thoughts. About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A play in two acts, Albee's last work sets three women of varying ages and viewpoints against each other within the confines of a claustrophobic bedroom: the ripostes of the first act give way to meditations upon time's passing, death, and family in the second, after it is revealed that the three antagonistic personalities are all the same woman at different stages of her life. What might have been a quick-witted but insubstantial drama much in line with most of Albee's late plays, then, becomes A play in two acts, Albee's last work sets three women of varying ages and viewpoints against each other within the confines of a claustrophobic bedroom: the ripostes of the first act give way to meditations upon time's passing, death, and family in the second, after it is revealed that the three antagonistic personalities are all the same woman at different stages of her life. What might have been a quick-witted but insubstantial drama much in line with most of Albee's late plays, then, becomes an examination of regret and domestic strife that recalls the best of his early work.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sketchbook

    Albee's obnoxious Mum died in 1989 and a few years later he wrote this impressive play about death and the changes that occur in one's life. In the 60s, after the huge success of "Virginia Woolf," he endured personal attacks from dumb-ox critics like Stanley Kauffmann and Robert Brustein. Philip Roth put in his censorious 2 cents. Suffering quietly, Albee made some dramatic missteps. By the 90s the world had changed and fresh critical blood was around. Freed from all the fools, Albee came up with, Albee's obnoxious Mum died in 1989 and a few years later he wrote this impressive play about death and the changes that occur in one's life. In the 60s, after the huge success of "Virginia Woolf," he endured personal attacks from dumb-ox critics like Stanley Kauffmann and Robert Brustein. Philip Roth put in his censorious 2 cents. Suffering quietly, Albee made some dramatic missteps. By the 90s the world had changed and fresh critical blood was around. Freed from all the fools, Albee came up with, probably, his Best -- rivaled only by "The American Dream." His play asks : what can we learn from experience ? Here's his thoughtful meditation on love and loathing, and the unbearable things we'd like to forget. ~~ But no one forgets.

  4. 4 out of 5

    J.

    a: (Not friendly.) She was smarter than me .. no: brighter, two years younger. c: (Smiles.) Or five, or seven. a: What ? c: Nothing. a: She always got better grades, had more beaux—when we were growing up. Only then; she missed more boats than you can shake a stick at. c: (examining her nails.) I’ve never shook a stick at a boat. b: (dry.) Well, maybe you should give it a try. Shaken; not shook. This is one from the slow-dawning revelation school of modern drama. Where the interaction and plot that a: (Not friendly.) She was smarter than me .. no: brighter, two years younger. c: (Smiles.) Or five, or seven. a: What ? c: Nothing. a: She always got better grades, had more beaux—when we were growing up. Only then; she missed more boats than you can shake a stick at. c: (examining her nails.) I’ve never shook a stick at a boat. b: (dry.) Well, maybe you should give it a try. Shaken; not shook. This is one from the slow-dawning revelation school of modern drama. Where the interaction and plot that evolves on the stage slowly becomes subtext to the overriding narrative coup being played, well above the heads of the characters, and at first, at least, of the audience. Stop reading this now if you'd rather not know about this, or if you're on your way out the door to the theater, because this 'trick' is what we'll be discussing here... Edward Albee specializes in small chamber pieces that feature a few involved characters, each of whom will shift in importance to each other, to the audience, and to the meaning of the narrative at hand, as the play goes by. Unforeseen circumstances re-align our understanding of the proceedings on stage. Nothing remarkable there, but when it's done masterfully --Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf-- the effect is a strong emotional rip-tide, via the most minimal of means. Well here it is: In Three Tall Women we are introduced to three characters who are in fact the same character. One woman --presumably the eldest as protagonist, though that will itself shift, with her wandering attention and competence-- but as dramatized by three separate characters, at three separate ages. (And also, a stray 'son' who drifts through, detached and uncaring, towards the end of the play. Perhaps the 'little bugger' or 'sonny jim' of Albee's past outings; a cypher.) But the women are fascinating, both to the audience and to each other, because of their vast similarities at first, when we don't yet know why that should be-- and then as they recognize the common ground that tells their story. They seem very much to be Grandmother, Daughter and Grand-daughter, but as we listen, we realize otherwise. Albee lists his characters thus: A a very old woman; thin, autocratic, proud. B looks rather as A would have at 52; plainly dressed. C looks rather as A would have at 26. The Boy 23 or so; preppy dress. The beguiling nature of their relation arrives only in implication, in glitches in the otherwise naturalistic conversation. The play on paper can only hint at what needs to be a little string-ensemble piece, a constantly variable hum of pace, timing, and then pace-broken, only to reset the timing. A lovely thing to imagine, ebbs and flows surely only fully imaginable within the proscenium. For the modern viewer, this comes across as a still-potent interweave of observation and veiled observation about the stages of life; oh and yes, they don't have names, which should serve as a tip to the trickery, but doesn't really. Picture the Dowager of Downton Abbey, age fully advanced and partly senile, chatting with a snarky Lady Mary at middle age, and a slightly ditzy Lady Rose in her twenties. If they were all the same person, at different ages, having a meeting of the minds. More or less. Proto-Stoppardian. Even though, in the year 1991, long after Stoppard was Stoppard. The grand Old Man come back to re-mentor the whipper-snapper with a tiny bit of chamber music.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alan Scott

    Three Tall Women is about Albee’s mother, her experiences, his relationship with her, and her struggles to make sense of and come to terms with the decisions she made throughout her. The play has two acts: Act 1 consists of a long conversation between a 90 year old woman, her caretaker/nurse, and a lawyer representing her estate. Act 2 gives us three versions of the same woman – one 26 years old, one 56 years old, and other in her 90s – all discussing their shared life. It is never stated direct Three Tall Women is about Albee’s mother, her experiences, his relationship with her, and her struggles to make sense of and come to terms with the decisions she made throughout her. The play has two acts: Act 1 consists of a long conversation between a 90 year old woman, her caretaker/nurse, and a lawyer representing her estate. Act 2 gives us three versions of the same woman – one 26 years old, one 56 years old, and other in her 90s – all discussing their shared life. It is never stated directly that the woman in the play is Albee’s mother (for instance, the script lists the women as A, B, and C), but the similarities are telling. In the first act, we get a sense of the meaninglessness of life. The old woman has grown senile, and, as she discusses her life with her caretaker and lawyer, she continually gets confused regarding when or if certain events took place, who she was talking about (mixing people up), or why events or decisions were made. She laughs, weeps, remembers and forgets with torturous rapidity. At the end of Act 1 she has a stroke. Act 2 give us the three versions of the same woman discussing their shared life while walking around a deathbed. Their discussion is grim and bitter. The youngest (and most idealist) woman is horrified at what she later becomes (in the form of the two other women), and the older two women continually laugh at her naïveté. The lives and deaths of her parents are horrifically described (her own “loving” mother eventually becoming her sickly “enemy”); her marriage is revealed as motivated by money; her own and her husband’s infidelities are detailed; her husband’s nightmarish and painful death is also described; her continual compromises with her own ideals and dreams are listed; her lifelong, trenchant repressions come up again and again; and her disastrous relationship with her son is a major point of conversation. The middle aged woman often berated the oldest for lack of conviction – for instance, in visiting with their son again. The younger version berated the oldest for not living up to the youngest’s ideals. The oldest woman was the most resigned, the most accepting of her life. She never condemned the others, she would often simply smile and laughed while struggling to recall the youngest’s strange beliefs and hopes. Make no mistake, however, this is not a work without humor; but it is a gallows humor, an absurdist humor which asserts (via its jabs at naive idealism) that life is not without completely meaning, but, this meaning is never THE meaning one originally sets out to create. Nor is there anyway to map out or control where a life takes you. Nor is there any way to avoid the horrors and pains. The 26 year old woman looks into future and demands to know when her greatest joy will arrive, for surely, she has not had it already. The oldest woman responds, “Coming to the end of it [life], I think, when all the waves cause the greatest woes to subside, leaving breathing space, time to concentrate on the greatest woe of all – that blessed one – the end of it, Going through the whole thing and coming out […] Coming to the end of it; yes. So. There it is. You asked, after all. That’s the happiest moment.” Life is absurd, indeed, when one’s happiest moment in life is death. But, as the ladies might say, that’s what it is – deal with it! The experience I had viewing this play was a deeply cathartic one. Sometimes I feel as if, as I go through my day, I am constantly lied to: in the television and radio and internet ads; in all the superficial interactions a person encounters; in the infantile platitudes and clichés hurled at us meant to seduce us into different materialist or ideological ways of thinking; in all the strategic silences and distortions that friends and lovers and family tell each other because, always, the truth is too damn difficult. We live on lies. But, when I see an Albee play, one like Three Tall Women, I feel that, for once, finally, someone is being straight with me. It is a painful but liberated Truth that Albee bring us.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Linda Robinson

    Three Tall Women is coming to Broadway this spring, starring Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pil. Powerful cast. I looked at preview tickets and thought about heading to NY, and got the play from the library first. The play by Edward Albee won beaucoups awards including the Pulitzer Prize in 1994. Albee also wrote Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. I could have read this with less anxiety had there been no foreword by Albee himself. In the back of my head was a memory of Albee having tro Three Tall Women is coming to Broadway this spring, starring Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pil. Powerful cast. I looked at preview tickets and thought about heading to NY, and got the play from the library first. The play by Edward Albee won beaucoups awards including the Pulitzer Prize in 1994. Albee also wrote Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. I could have read this with less anxiety had there been no foreword by Albee himself. In the back of my head was a memory of Albee having trouble with his mother (as it turns out, his stepmother). No, Albee, claims, this play is not a purging. It is not revenge. It is not a lot of things that launched the mind worm "he doth protest too much." The reviewers and the Pulitzer Prize committee concluded it was a thoughtful take on aging and end of life. It denigrates and infantilizes aging women, encourages the younger women in the play (and thus, the audience) to fear the Great Age Monster, both in person and in theory. I had a picture of Elizabeth Taylor spewing in the Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf movie, and of Sandy Dennis defending - whatever the hell she was defending. The three tall differently aged women are named A, B and C. By the end of the play I disliked that as well -feels dismissive, as though the playwright was bored with his characters. There's plenty of dark takes on old women right in the neighborhood. I don't have to fly to New York to see some more.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    I read this 24 years ago when it first came out, and didn't think much of it at the time - but with the current Broadway production getting raves, I wanted to revisit it, and see if it (or more likely, I) had changed in the intervening years. I think I do 'get' the play better, now that the themes of aging and mortality creep closer to being relevant, but I still think it is a largely static and 'talky' play, and that it somewhat reiterates the same points over and over again. Still, would (almo I read this 24 years ago when it first came out, and didn't think much of it at the time - but with the current Broadway production getting raves, I wanted to revisit it, and see if it (or more likely, I) had changed in the intervening years. I think I do 'get' the play better, now that the themes of aging and mortality creep closer to being relevant, but I still think it is a largely static and 'talky' play, and that it somewhat reiterates the same points over and over again. Still, would (almost) kill to see Glenda Jackson sink her teeth into the role of A!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Merke

    I'm rather disappointed in this play from Albee. The disconnect between Act 1 and 2 for me what was the largest let down. The first act was uncomfortable, the racism and antisemitism did nothing for me and in retrospect after finishing it was rather pointless. In fact I feel most of Act 1 was pointless. I get the set-up in understanding each woman, but a whole act was not required for this, it's dragged out. Which is considerably sad given Act 2 was pretty decent. I understand where the was supp I'm rather disappointed in this play from Albee. The disconnect between Act 1 and 2 for me what was the largest let down. The first act was uncomfortable, the racism and antisemitism did nothing for me and in retrospect after finishing it was rather pointless. In fact I feel most of Act 1 was pointless. I get the set-up in understanding each woman, but a whole act was not required for this, it's dragged out. Which is considerably sad given Act 2 was pretty decent. I understand where the was supposed to go, and I can imagine a version of this play that is amazing, but sadly this isn't it. I think this is one of those pieces that could do with a huge re-write, a new imagining with the same concept -- 3 women exploring their own life. So much potential in this, but sadly Three Tall Women didn't deliver for me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Terence Manleigh

    I saw the original production of this big comeback play of Albee's. What strikes me the most about the play is the psychological spectacle of it. Like the scene in Amadeus when Salieri marvels at "Don Giovanni" (the spectacle of Mozart "resurrecting" his dead father as the Commendatore to rise from the grave and accuse his son, etc etc), Albee raises his legendarily hateful mother from the grave and does something unnerving and beautiful - he sets her up naked and exposed for judgment, finds her I saw the original production of this big comeback play of Albee's. What strikes me the most about the play is the psychological spectacle of it. Like the scene in Amadeus when Salieri marvels at "Don Giovanni" (the spectacle of Mozart "resurrecting" his dead father as the Commendatore to rise from the grave and accuse his son, etc etc), Albee raises his legendarily hateful mother from the grave and does something unnerving and beautiful - he sets her up naked and exposed for judgment, finds her "guilty", forgives her, and exorcises her...and at the end, perhaps identifies with her. Biographical elements aside, the play is a powerful, moving examination of the humiliations of age and decline and the sad mysteries of a life reflected upon at the final curtain.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I read this a long time ago but I remembered it just now and I had to include it. I remember being oddly, overwhelmingly moved by it, I can still feel the salty sting of tears beginning in my eyes as I think about it. I was, like, in its spell for a few hours afterward. I couldn't look at people, I couldn't work, I just stared mournfully into space. I can't even remember what it was about, really, or even who wrote it (the title I remembered) but I do remember something about the last words...th I read this a long time ago but I remembered it just now and I had to include it. I remember being oddly, overwhelmingly moved by it, I can still feel the salty sting of tears beginning in my eyes as I think about it. I was, like, in its spell for a few hours afterward. I couldn't look at people, I couldn't work, I just stared mournfully into space. I can't even remember what it was about, really, or even who wrote it (the title I remembered) but I do remember something about the last words...the last words... I'm not going to spoil them for whoever's reading this but know this- I ain't much for a cryin' man, but I'm getting a little misty here talking about it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jana

    Three Tall feisty dark disturbed but always very interesting women. I really enjoy reading drama. I had hoped to see this in NYC. With luck I will see it before I get to woman A’s age. 6-16-18: I saw the play last night! Broadway. With Laurie Metcalf. What. A. Show.

  12. 4 out of 5

    واسع علوی

    My best friend suggested this book to me. Although I give it a 4-star, I think the plot is a little cliche.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    THREE TALL WOMEN. (1991). Edward Albee. ****. This won another Pulitzer Prize for Albee, his third. There are four characters; actually, there are only two, and one doesn’t have any lines. Three of the characters are women; they are labeled “A”, “B”, and “C”. The fourth role is that of a boy, about twenty-three years old. “A” is an old woman, about ninety-one or –two-years old. “B” is a woman of about fifty-two-years. She looks a lot like “A” would look at 52. Finally, “C” is a younger woman who THREE TALL WOMEN. (1991). Edward Albee. ****. This won another Pulitzer Prize for Albee, his third. There are four characters; actually, there are only two, and one doesn’t have any lines. Three of the characters are women; they are labeled “A”, “B”, and “C”. The fourth role is that of a boy, about twenty-three years old. “A” is an old woman, about ninety-one or –two-years old. “B” is a woman of about fifty-two-years. She looks a lot like “A” would look at 52. Finally, “C” is a younger woman who looks a lot like “B” would look if “B” were twenty-six-years old. “A” is on her death bed – almost. At the beginning of the play she is able enough to get to the bathroom with help, but soon becomes bed-ridden. We also soon realize that A, B, and C are the same woman, but at different ages in her life. The life of A is reviewed for the benefit of both B and C. She is matter-of-fact about life, and is aware that she is at the end of hers. B knows she has some time left, but is still bitter about many of the things she has done in her life. Most of them were unsuccessful. C is just starting out. Everything that she hears is new to her – it hasn’t happened yet. They talk mostly about men. They talk about money. They talk about the son that A had who never comes to visit anymore. The “boy” is that son. He turns up on a visit, but is too late. To say that this play is depressing would be an understatement. A, B, and C all have regrets. C is still the one with the most hope. You will sit and think about this play long after you have read it. Recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    I so admire how brave Albee is. He is unafraid to make an audience squirm, (best example "The Goat..." ) But our squirming is never without an authentic opportunity for reflection. Here we reflect on our choices, and perhaps the illusion of free will as we hurtle towards death. It's not light, but it is incredibly funny. This play reads beautifully. I wish I was back in NYC to see Metcalf and Jackson in the first Bway production. But I imagined them saying the lines as I read, creating a theater I so admire how brave Albee is. He is unafraid to make an audience squirm, (best example "The Goat..." ) But our squirming is never without an authentic opportunity for reflection. Here we reflect on our choices, and perhaps the illusion of free will as we hurtle towards death. It's not light, but it is incredibly funny. This play reads beautifully. I wish I was back in NYC to see Metcalf and Jackson in the first Bway production. But I imagined them saying the lines as I read, creating a theater in my mind. (More stage directions than I expected.) Albee is a God. Full stop. No one has approached his magnificence in the last 50 years. His plays never fail to inspire, disturb, provoke and console.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John

    Really interesting examination of the stages of one woman's life, through three characters playing the same person at different ages. Albee-weirdness, yes, but this is actually pretty clear and easy to follow. Nice sense of humor. Kind of cold conclusions about life and motivations and happiness.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I didn't understand this... Or rather I don't know why it needed to be written. It seems to be an examination on aging and looking back at one's life. But I don't know why Albee chose this woman. She's bitter and flawed and unapologetic. Not a pleasant reading experience.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    As candid as they come, this intellectual piece addresses growing older and regrets made along the way told through three individual voices who might not be as individual as they initially appear.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ingrid Knipfer

    I saw the play in NYC in 1994 and based one of my own plays on it ‘ Het appartement’ part of three plays. Dutch edition ‘Het gebouw’ published in 2014.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Stephany

    It’s never easy to write a show with four characters with three being the same person. Edward Albee did so. After crafting such memorable shows as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? and Seascape he added the extraordinary Three Tall Women to his catalog. It provided the perfect vehicle for the playwright to exhibit the range of his genius. In addition to the creativity involved in the concept, he crafted a moving meditation on the physical and psychological effects of the aging process. The play con It’s never easy to write a show with four characters with three being the same person. Edward Albee did so. After crafting such memorable shows as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? and Seascape he added the extraordinary Three Tall Women to his catalog. It provided the perfect vehicle for the playwright to exhibit the range of his genius. In addition to the creativity involved in the concept, he crafted a moving meditation on the physical and psychological effects of the aging process. The play contained three main characters. The playwright chose not to name them; settling instead for the appellations A, B and C. It turned out that each character played the same “tall” woman at different points in her life. A was an old woman in her nineties. In the list of characters, Mr. Albee described B as “looks rather as A would have at 52; plainly dressed.” C “looks rather as B would have at 26.” The drama commenced with A on the verge of death. The three characters discussed the key events from her life and how they led to this conclusion. The disparity in their views concretized the ways people evaluate the same events at different points in their lives. The author animated this point very well. I especially enjoyed the exchanges between A and C on pages 104 and 105. Both admitted to each other, “I don’t like you.” I found that very interesting for two characters that were, in essence, the same person. I liked how the author worked A’s difficulty remembering things into the story. With the way the narrative progressed I wondered if the character lacked this ability intentionally. With some of the unpleasant events that occurred during her life I could understand why. A good example took place when B expressed hatred for her own son. (Rage) He left! He packed up his attitudes and he left! And I never want to see him again. (To him) Go away!! (Angry, humiliated, tears.) (Page 92) I found the portion where C discussed their future husband with characters A and B the most interesting section of the play. The playwright made C a young lady of 26 years. A and B informed her that she married at 28. The characters derisively described the spouse as “little and he’s funny looking—a little like a penguin.” (Page 82) B even called him, “The little one; the little one-eyed man?” (Page 79) She added that they went on to spend forty years with one man: “more or less.” (Page 79) Under C’s questioning, she acknowledged a torrid affair during the marriage. I enjoyed how C became disgusted by the description of the husband along with her (future) behavior towards him. Of course, we know that she’s the character who went on to marry and cheat on him shortly afterwards. I did have some issues with the dialog. I found a lot of it repetitious. I can understand that since all three characters played, in essence, the same person the playwright would choose to show that by having the individuals speak in similar ways. It did get a little tedious to read after a while. Characters B and C also recited a line made famous by Kurt Vonnegut. They both used the expression, “And so it goes.” It really grabbed my attention. I didn’t understand if the Mr. Albee deliberately referenced Vonnegut or if he had a meaning more endemic to the play in citing him. I would’ve appreciated a clarification. On an episode of The Simpsons, Marge told Lisa, “You could write a depressing Broadway play. It could be about people coming to terms with things.” That would serve as a good general synopsis of Three Tall Women. While a very cerebral and unhappy story, it’s still an extraordinary exploration of aging and its effects on the human psyche. If you don’t believe me, and you’re young enough, try reading it when you’re 26, 52 and 91.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    This is the fourth of Albee's plays that I have encountered - I saw and loved "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", saw and read "The Zoo Story", and read another piece that was published with it. "Three Tall Women" was a Pulitzer Prize winner, and it is a fine work with some powerful emotions bubbling and churning throughout. I can imagine it might be a little tricky to stage, because the ratio of talk to action is quite high, and the operative mood is reminiscence. The story concerns a woman's lif This is the fourth of Albee's plays that I have encountered - I saw and loved "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", saw and read "The Zoo Story", and read another piece that was published with it. "Three Tall Women" was a Pulitzer Prize winner, and it is a fine work with some powerful emotions bubbling and churning throughout. I can imagine it might be a little tricky to stage, because the ratio of talk to action is quite high, and the operative mood is reminiscence. The story concerns a woman's life as told through 3 characters. It begins realistically with an octogenarian lady spending time with a 50 year-old nurse and a 25 year-old female lawyer who has come to work on her estate and finances. She is a proper Anglo-Saxon lady, judging from her conversation, from a good home and accustomed to living well. The characters begin to irritate one another, and one can see the conflicts in viewpoint that exist between people of different generations. In the second act, the characters leave behind their outward selves and become 3 versions of the same woman, at different periods in her life. Her 3 selves discuss key points in her life, such as her marriage and her relationships with various family members, including her troubled life with her son. The different characteristics transpire: the uncertainty and emotion of youth, the bitterness of middle age, and finally the resignation irony of old age. She was a woman from a proper family, she moved to New York and dated some different guys, and settled on a financially successful man who cheated on her. This caused her pain, and so did her son, a flaky, sleazy guy who left home at an early age. (One wonders to what extend Albee is referring to his own family's life here.) There is eventually a bittersweet reconciliation with him, but not all the selves are in agreement about it. Eventually, the tripartite self of this woman negotiates her way to an understanding of her life. This is not the angry Albee of earlier years, the sarcastic skewerer of human stupidity, the borderline nihilist who nevertheless seemed to care deeply about his deeply flawed people. This Albee seems to identify with the crippled old lady, and his outlook seems to have mellowed. He looks back and sees the frustration and pain, but he accepts these things more, the ironies are interesting and so is the ride, even if it is bumpy at times.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Skye

    Yay. Okay I actually really enjoyed this play by Albee. The first few plays I read by him I was concerned, but I really enjoyed this little play. I loved the connection between the three tall women and I fowl like you can take it in many different ways. He is pretty much a genius playwright with that.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Max

    I’ve been on a slow journey to discover more and more of Albee’s work. I find his writing funny, biting, often subversive; I like him a lot. This play is engaging and unusual, with three characters embodying one woman’s life over time. The characters are distinct, in tune with their respective ages, and there’s a bit of suspense as the youngest and second-youngest look to unravel mysteries of their future. I have a kind of significant quibble with it, and that’s that the son (who shows up in the m I’ve been on a slow journey to discover more and more of Albee’s work. I find his writing funny, biting, often subversive; I like him a lot. This play is engaging and unusual, with three characters embodying one woman’s life over time. The characters are distinct, in tune with their respective ages, and there’s a bit of suspense as the youngest and second-youngest look to unravel mysteries of their future. I have a kind of significant quibble with it, and that’s that the son (who shows up in the middle of the second act to visit his dying mother) is portrayed by the second-youngest (or second-oldest depending on your view) character as a monster. She’s “enraged” by his presence and wants him completely out of her life and vision. I didn’t really buy into the intensity and ferocity of her dislike of him. She explains why she feels this way, and it’s not really persuasive enough. It makes her seem petty and vindictive, and yet everything else we’ve seen of her (at various ages) is sympathetic and at least somewhat self-aware. Maybe that’s my issue with the play overall. The character (or characters) is likable, and yet when it comes to her (their) own family, she seems to have gone over the edge and seems inexplicably unreasonable. I re-read the introduction to the play when I was done with it, and I see that many elements of the piece are autobiographical, and seemed to have been part of Albee’s own effort to come to grips with his adoptive mother. He’s a terrific writer and the play is effective and engaging, but maybe by inserting himself into the narrative, he loses something. I think that it would have been just as effective (if not more so) to lose the male character. All this said, the play is moving and insightful, and it’s another chapter for me into the journey of Albee’s work. I find occasional flaws in his writing overall, but maybe that’s what makes him all the more interesting to me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Cosby

    3.5 stars -- [Update: A few days after I wrote this review, I saw this play on Broadway with Laurie Metcalf, Glenda Jackson and Alison Pill. As you can imagine, with that cast and the stage magic of Broadway, it was much better than just reading it. However, it still wasn't as good as Virginia Woolf, which was life changing for me. Also, I saw Stoppard's Travesties the night before, and it was an entire level of greatness above this play in my opinion; but then again Stoppard is my all-time favo 3.5 stars -- [Update: A few days after I wrote this review, I saw this play on Broadway with Laurie Metcalf, Glenda Jackson and Alison Pill. As you can imagine, with that cast and the stage magic of Broadway, it was much better than just reading it. However, it still wasn't as good as Virginia Woolf, which was life changing for me. Also, I saw Stoppard's Travesties the night before, and it was an entire level of greatness above this play in my opinion; but then again Stoppard is my all-time favorite, so...] I liked this play, but only realized that I had already read it when I went to add it to my reading journal. Even as I was reading it, I didn't remember reading it before. However, scanning my review from 8 years ago, when I read it the first time (I think it was the first time anyway), I liked it a little better this time. I guess the fact that I didn't remember reading it before says something about the play. There are no big plot points, although some of the reminiscences do offer vignettes about the history of the main character; so nothing remarkable from a story standpoint. And while the idea of three characters on stage representing the same person at different times in her life is somewhat interesting, it has been done many times since (and maybe even before); in fact, in Fun Home, it was exactly three actors all representing the same girl, and it was superb. Still, TTW has good dialog, some decent quotables, and will probably be really moving when seen as a live play. (I see it on Broadway in a few days, so will update this review then). The second act, when they younger girl takes main stage, is my favorite as she tells the same stories told by the oldest self in the first act, but she tells them with an innocent candor and energetic hope only accessible by the young -- the some sort of feelings that bubble up when my kids talk about their ideas and the future. So Albee got that part right.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carlisle

    Albee is generally 'good,' but this one is FANTASTIC. The three women who are different and who are, somehow, the same walk us through the different stages of life, the disappointments, and everything that comes with growing up and growing old. It's funny how the fourth wall is fluid in this play, just like the distinctions between the characters become fluid in Act II. We see a plot unfold, a conflict between the old guard and the new (with middle age bridging the gap with a hint of wisdom and Albee is generally 'good,' but this one is FANTASTIC. The three women who are different and who are, somehow, the same walk us through the different stages of life, the disappointments, and everything that comes with growing up and growing old. It's funny how the fourth wall is fluid in this play, just like the distinctions between the characters become fluid in Act II. We see a plot unfold, a conflict between the old guard and the new (with middle age bridging the gap with a hint of wisdom and a small dab of fear), and then all of a sudden--boom. We are looking at the portrait of the Life of Woman, represented by three different phases. This is fun, poignant, and thought-provoking (AM I LIVING MY BEST LIFE OMG).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    I liked this play a lot, but only because the way that the three characters of the play then become aspects of the same person. I love how C says that she will never become A and B, while A and B simply roll their eyes at the foolishness they once possessed for thinking they'd never change. It's interesting to see the same person, but at three different ages, reflect on the same circumstances, but this play also annoyed me because of the uncomfortable sexual descriptions. Sure, mentioning these I liked this play a lot, but only because the way that the three characters of the play then become aspects of the same person. I love how C says that she will never become A and B, while A and B simply roll their eyes at the foolishness they once possessed for thinking they'd never change. It's interesting to see the same person, but at three different ages, reflect on the same circumstances, but this play also annoyed me because of the uncomfortable sexual descriptions. Sure, mentioning these scenes may be needed for character development and all that, but I would enjoy this play much more if the description was cut down just a bit. Overall, an enjoyable and interesting read. :]

  26. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Three women (one young, one middle-aged, and one elderly) are concerned with what they know, how they know it, and when they knew it. The play centers on death and dying, but thematically, it’s about the inevitable changes that take place in humans as they age. Albee admits to the autobiographical elements: “I knew my subject—my adoptive mother, whom I knew from my infancy . . . until her death over sixty years later. . . . I harbor no ill-will toward her; it is true I did not like her much, could Three women (one young, one middle-aged, and one elderly) are concerned with what they know, how they know it, and when they knew it. The play centers on death and dying, but thematically, it’s about the inevitable changes that take place in humans as they age. Albee admits to the autobiographical elements: “I knew my subject—my adoptive mother, whom I knew from my infancy . . . until her death over sixty years later. . . . I harbor no ill-will toward her; it is true I did not like her much, could not abide her prejudices, her loathings, her paranoias, but I did admire her pride, her sense of self.”

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Damn, Albee knows how to write a play. The simplicity of structure and the straight-forward banter of his characters make this emotionally complex play a must read for anyone interested in modern theatre. One need only look to Albee to see the standard by which all contemporary work must be measured. His prose are pointed and unmitigatedly nuanced. Albee uses a "light touch" surrealism that brings his subject-matter (in this case, the human life-cycle) into blinding focus. Next to "Virginia Wool Damn, Albee knows how to write a play. The simplicity of structure and the straight-forward banter of his characters make this emotionally complex play a must read for anyone interested in modern theatre. One need only look to Albee to see the standard by which all contemporary work must be measured. His prose are pointed and unmitigatedly nuanced. Albee uses a "light touch" surrealism that brings his subject-matter (in this case, the human life-cycle) into blinding focus. Next to "Virginia Woolf," this has to be my favorite of his work. Read it!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ramprasad Dutta

    An outstanding play which probes the psychological core of an aged woman. Certainly, this play depicts the relationship between Albee and his mother in an allegorical manner. Again the three women (A, B and C) can be seen as different selves of a particular woman. It's very interesting to say that Albee's plays dig out sexuality from the very psyche of his characters, be it Martha in "WAVW", or Jerry in "ZOO STORY" or A in "THREE TALL WOMEN". Beautiful..

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    It's an interesting juxtaposition of the three selves confronting one another and conversing. It will cause a lot of introspection, but don't read this if you're not feeling good about where you are in your own life. Particularly for women, I think this serves to peel back the layers and expose some raw truth of common experiences many of us go through, in a way that is a bit uncomfortable to read and to face.

  30. 4 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    A tight little play with only 4 characters, one of which is barely visible. Major characters are 3 women - one young, one middle aged and one old. Now you see 3 characters in the varying stages of life, but only one life is really being portrayed. As you advance through this play you understand that the story of the three is really an amalgamation of only one woman. Very well orchestrated and tightly woven - enjoyable read.

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