EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
Below are excerpts from the February 6, 2018 Broadway World review of Long Day's Journey Into Night.
This highly autobiographical play would seem out of touch with our futuristic, digital age, as it is set in 1912, more than a century ago. But as is so often the case with great art, O'Neill's work is timeless-as relevant now in terms of the themes and issues it explores as today itself.
A 3 ½ hour production with two intermissions, Long Day's Journey follows a day in the life of the Tyrone family in their sturdy, if not stately, seaside summer home in Connecticut. Don't let the run time of this play daunt you, it is engaging from the first minute until the last. Despite the rather somber issues at play-alcoholism, morphine addiction, a veritable rolling fog of ennui, might-have-been-itis, broken dreams and human failure-the Everyman production is engaging, enlightening, and even quite humorous in parts. Just imagine the Kardashians if everyone in that family had an IQ of over 140 and cracked a book at least as often as they take a selfie.
Seriously though-and there is much that is serious in this play-while much credit to this play's success lies in its Tony-and-Pulitzer-Prize-winning writing, it truly comes to life when placed in the hands of a fine acting company, as can be found at the Everyman, starting with Kurt Rhoads and his performance as the Tyrone family patriarch, James.
"It truly comes to life when placed in the hands of a fine acting company, as can be found at the Everyman."
Tall, broad and powerful in a John-Wayne-in-The-Quiet-Man mold, Rhoads plays James as a man who has embraced Shakespeare's "all the world's a stage" credo, which is apt, as his character is an actor by trade who holds the Bard in reverence above all other writers. Some of the pockets of humor in the play can be found as Rhoads spars with his consumptive son, Edmund (Danny Gavigan) who prefers the nihilism of Nietzche:
James: Why can't you remember your Shakespeare and forget the third-raters. You'll find what you're trying to say in him- as you'll find everything else worth saying. 'We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with sleep.'
Edmund: Fine! That's beautiful. But I wasn't trying to say that. We are such stuff as manure is made on, so let's drink up and forget it. That's more my idea.
Vexing James continuously are his boys-the eldest, Jamie (Tim Getman), and the aforementioned Edmund. While Edmund has "the makings of a poet," Jamie appears to have the makings of nothing at all. He finds himself best defined in his relationship with his brother, whom he looks upon as his personal charge and mentor. He has followed his father's path into theater, but has no real interest in the craft. James, Jamie and Edmund are like adjacent islands in a small sea-close, seemingly aligned but never truly connecting. Except in one way: a mutually shared concern for their mother, Mary (Deborah Hazlett)'s well-being.
Hazlett is riveting as a woman falling into an abyss; but the fall is not a straight one, nor is it in the case of any of the characters, as each bounces back and forth between what they tell themselves and what they truly know, what they love, hate and love to hate, between blame and self-blame. The skill of the actors is tremendous as the line from tour-de-force drama into caricaturist melodrama is one none of this able company ever crosses.
Kudos as always to the Everyman production staff (including Daniel Ettinger and David Burdick) for set and costume design, with an outdoors that looks continuously blank and gray, rooms seemingly hewn of heavy brown wood that matches the men's heavy brown costumes, culminating in Mary's Ophelia-in-Hamlet-ghostlike attire at play's end.