Three Tall Women
The play is nominally sequential, two acts, one set (an ornate bedroom). The same woman, A at ninety-one (or ninety-two), B at fifty-two, C at twenty-six, and her twenty-three-year-old son (who has no lines).
In Act One, A is the earliest, C the latest. In Act Two, this is reversed. Apollinaire explains this in the trenches (“Le palais du tonnerre”).
The slipshod writing is a studied effect, Albee’s precision is mocked as a childish pedanticism. Imagery is achieved more carefully than the sharpest grammatical analysis. It floats in two hours of conversation, blissful and borborygmic, to constitute the play. This is a Shakespearean device, also the thematic introduction of material in another’s plays, Beckett’s Human Wishes and Osborne’s East of Suez for Act One, Borges’ “The other” (a dialogue in short-story form) and Wilder’s Our Town (but also, if you prefer, Albee’s Everything in the Garden) for Act Two.
The hard and up-to-date girl is a novice at life, the aged wreck has seen it all. In-between is the mediator.
Thus much for “the barbed wire of initiation”. She has affairs, marries, has an ungrateful son, sees her husband’s death, grows old and dies. A Cubist portrait, or rather one of Schwitters’ compositions (Konstruktion für edle Frauen).