Literature Annotations

Albee, Edward
Three Tall Women

Genre Play (110 pp.)
KeywordsAging, Body Self-Image, Death and Dying, Dementia, Family Relationships, Patient Experience, Stroke
SummaryThis play takes place in the bedroom of a sick and forgetful old woman (A). In the first act she is cared for by a middle-aged companion (B) and visited by a young woman (C) sent by the lawyer to settle some financial affairs. A is imperious and acerbic; B, practical and compassionate; C, impatient and curious. In the context of A's life, they discuss the human condition with its love, pain, wit, sex, and inevitable decline. At the end of the first act, A suffers a stroke that leaves her on the edge of death. In the second act a mannequin of A lies in the bed. B and C are joined by A on-stage in discussing events in their mutual life and how one became the other--for they are, in fact, all the same woman ("everywoman") at different stages of her life.
CommentaryIn this Pulitzer prize-winning play, Albee portrays aging and human frailty with insight, wit, and a complete absence of sentimentality. Just as in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Albee lays bare the pettiness and self-deception in our lives, but in this play he introduces a dimension of forgiveness and reconciliation not seen in his earlier work.
Place PublishedNew York
Annotated by Coulehan, Jack
Date of Entry 03/06/95
Last Revised 02/18/97