Long Day’s Journey into Night
By Eugene O’Neill
HOME & Citizens Theatre
HOME, 11 May 2018
It is a journey that starts slow, steadily gathers speed, then accelerates wildly, this marvellous production of Eugene O’Neill’s grand-hearted, largely autobiographical (mind, all these people are real) play, so that by the end it is a wonder that the car is still on the road, and everyone is still (just about) standing.
There is the regular rhythm of the day and, alongside that, another motion too, an insistent, invasive digging into what makes this family tick, what keeps these people alive and together, coming back for more. The family is made up of James and Mary Tyrone (George Costigan and Brid Ni Neachtain) and their two sons, James Junior (Sam Phillips) and Edmund (Lorn Macdonald). Edmund, based upon O’Neill, has a ‘summer cold’ which may prove to be a more serious illness. On this fateful day he visits the doctor to learn of his fate, and afterwards has it out with his father and mother and brother about their mutual flaws and failings. They are none of them bad people by any means, they love each other, but they have been stunted and scarred by experience.
He digs deep here, does O’Neill, wielding an incisive scalpel, and the cast, particularly Sam Phillips as the elder brother James, are fully engaged in the operation. What is especially fine about the play is this increasingly urgent, eviscerating reveal. What is invisible and/or obscure in daylight (everyone’s secret motor) becomes gradually more distinct as day yields to twilight, twilight gives way to flickering lamplight. Then darkness falls.
Long Day’s Journey into Night is at HOME until 26 May 2018. Details here.
You can watch a trailer of this production of Long Day’s Journey into Night here.