Long Day’s Journey into Night

This classic  by Eugene O’ Neill is not for the faint hearted.  If you want a good night out but can’t get into Hamilton, this play will disappoint you.  It’s three and a half hours long and most of human weakness is laid bare.  Focussed around the dominant figure of the father played brilliantly by Jeremy Irons, with his wife and two sons all tainted by his desire for success.   He chose to marry for love, a sweet innocent girl unsuited to the rigours of the life of a touring acting company.  She does not have the inner strength or resources to pull the family together but instead falls apart.  The dream is still there for the others that she (wife and mother) will come together and kick the habit that she acquired from being given morphine after her youngest son was born.  She blames her husband, she wants a home, she wants her previous life.   At times it becomes oppressive and you want a break – like to hear a song you don’t particularly like in a musical so you can turn off – but the acting is so good it compels you to stay in there.  The set by Rob Howell  –  a room opening on to the seafront – is full of atmosphere and lighting (often referred to in the play) changes with the mood of the action. Eugene O’ Neill could have been on the set with them.  When it finished, I was left with a feeling of depression.  Yesterday, this was replaced by relief,  happiness and gratefulness that I’d seen the play, so I guess seeing this play was cathartic for me.  The performances are flawless.  Jessica Reegan as Cathleen, Matthew Beard as Edmund Tyrone, Rory Keenan as James Tyrone Jr and Leslie Manville as Mary Tyrone.  My friend said that Jeremy Irons was not clear sometimes in his speech – but that didn’t seem to matter.   The rhythm of the writing at that depth of emotion means that sometimes the speaking is the emotion.  The voice and dialect coach is the wonderful Penny Dyer.  This Long Day’s Journey into Night is a production to remember.  Certainly the best production that I’ve seen of the play and I’ve see it a few times.

Jeremy Irons as James Tyrone and Lesley Manville as Mary Tyrone

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