LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT
February 10, 2022
Should you suffer from hyper-tension, you might consider doubling up your meds before heading to Eugene O'Neil's devastating "Long Day's Journey Into Night."
Bound by love, and cradled in despair, O'Neill's 1916 tragedy exposes lost souls savaged by the past. Spartanly directed by Robert O'Hara, the tension-filled two hour Long Day's Journey Into Night at the Minetta Lane Theater, features a taut ensemble cast. The play unfolds in the space of one, disastrous day of truth.
Liquor, drugs and doubt fuel a family's origin myth -- the one repeated again and again -- until it overwhelms reality. Blind to Socrates' instruction "the unexamined life is not worth living," personal devils devour the family.
Located in a contemporary Connecticut house situated on a foggy coast, Amazon delivery boxes are strewn across a beat up floor and furniture, along with take-out cofe and never-ending crates of Scotch.
Spirits are high because Mary has emerged from her room--hopefully rehabilitated. Her husband, Tyrone (Bill Camp) is visibly tickled to see her practicing yoga. As the morning fades, the two sons Edmund (Ato Blankson-Wood) and James Jr. (Jason Bowen) emerge skeptically optimistic their mother will persevere and pick life -- perhaps her family--over drugs.
Hooked on heroin (in the original play it was morphine) after suffering the debilitating delivery of her son Edmund, Mary (Elizabeth Marvel) is incapable of managing her addiction. With nerves blistering on the surface of her skin, Mary struggles to process her trauma, terminal pain and a family incapable of embracing adulthood. Solitude offers escape from nightmares of her son's death, and her pivotal decision to leave a convent's safety for marriage.
Throughout the day, dissatisfaction with career choices fester, erupting in repeated accusations: Tyrone dumps classical theater for popular pablum; Jamie never realizes his thespian ambitions and physical frailties limit Edmund's options.
Throughout the play, liquor fuels hours of urgently repeated hurts, the kind that if allowed, can haunt your every breath. Blessed with a voice trained to the level of an opera singer, Marvel's emotional vocal range shifts from a whisper to a frighteningly full blown yawp. These pyrotechnical vocal extremes mirror her psychic breakdown.
However, despite the toxicity, love does exist, only no one is capable of fully expressing it. Tyrone radiates feigned concern for all, but fails in truly supporting them (or even paying for essential medical care) when it counts. Only Edmund and Jamie convincingly portray affection for one another.
Produced by Audible, this expertly edited production pressurizes the plays's original four-hours into two hours of epic angst and human pathos.
My only wish: audience members could join the cast members in sharing bottle upon bottle of Scotch.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Celia Ipiotis