ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “A” is thin, rich and 92 years old, a fossil of the old guard and imperiousness.
“B” is a 52-year-old version of A, to whom she is the hired caretaker.
“C” is a 26-year-old version of B, a lawyer trying to organize some unpaid bills.
Edward Albee mined this trio of “Three Tall Women” into a play that won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize.
Both hilarious and horrifying, it opens on Friday, Feb. 15, at the Aux Dog Theatre, running through March 10.
“I believe it’s one of Albee’s best works,” director Frederick Ponzlov said. “Every word stands for a reason.”
“A” is a thinly veiled version of the playwright’s mother, who never forgave him for leaving her and – most important – for being gay.
“He never really got on with his family,” Ponzlov said. “They were very affluent, and he never fit in. He was always at odds with them.
“He had a very tortured life, anyway. He was initially very closeted. He had a series of very convoluted relationships.”
The play opens with A bitterly recalling both the memory of her bad marriage as well as her son. B is her cynical seen-it-all caretaker. C is trying to bring order to the chaos with an air of self-assurance.
“My concept of the play is the second act is the last three minutes of her life,” Ponzlov said. “It’s her first marriage, her rage at the son who left her. She’s processing all of that at the end of her life.
“It’s fascinating, and it seems like it wouldn’t work, but it does,” he added. “It’s also very funny.”
Moving through a living time-lapse photography, each character represents the essence of A, Albee’s mother, who he claimed bought him from an adoption agency for $133.30, forever hoping to return him.
“Three Tall Women” premiered on Broadway last March, starring Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill.
The play helped Albee regain the respect of the New York theater critics, who had despaired that the playwright they had lauded in the 1960s and 1970s had dried up creatively.
Albee, who died in 2016, once called “Three Tall Women” “a kind of exorcism.”