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Tiny Alice


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A: Edward Albee Pf: 1964, New York Pb: 1965 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Cardinal's garden, and library and sitting room in Miss Alice's castle, 1960s C: 4m, 1fA Lawyer brings a Cardinal a proposal from Miss Alice, the richest woman in the world, that she donate $2 billion to the Catholic Church with the proviso that the lay brother Julian come to her castle to finalize the deal. Julian enters Miss Alice's strange castle, one of whose extraordinary features is a large model of the castle in the library which exactly reflects events in the ‘real’ castle. Brother Julian, who had already endured a loss of faith resulting in being committed to an asylum, finds himself attracted to Alice. Once again, he enters a crisis of faith, as his love for Alice and the need to secure her donation conflict with his vow of celibacy. He marries Alice, but her servants, the Lawyer and the Butler, reveal that he has married merely a fleshly surrogate of the ‘Tiny Alice’ living in the model. Julian is unable to accept the truth of the situation, and the Lawyer shoots him. The Cardinal leaves with a briefcase full of money, while Julian dies backed against the model as though crucified. As he finally expires, saying that he accepts Alice's will, her shadow plunges the stage into darkness.

A: Edward Albee Pf: 1964, New York Pb: 1965 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Cardinal's garden, and library and sitting room in Miss Alice's castle, 1960s C: 4m, 1f

After the popular success of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Albee flouted all expectations by creating a piece that he conceded might not be understood in ‘a single viewing’. On one level, the play explores the struggles of a man of faith with sexual attraction and financial expediency. On another, the play ‘is an examination of how much false illusion we need to get through life’. Discovering Miss Alice to be a mere illusion of a Platonic reality represented by the model, Julian is asked to face the truth and live without religion, and accept that death will envelop him in total darkness.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights) — Theatre.


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Edward Albee (b. 1928) American dramatist


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