Reviewed by Richard Lane
Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night justifiably resides with Arthur Miller’s Death Of a Salesman as the “Great American Play.”
O’Neill’s play contains no major dramatic action, instead concerning itself with a dysfunctional family, the Tyrones.
The only plot line is whether youngest son Edmund has tuberculosis and whether Mary has returned to her morphine. By the final curtain we discover the answers to each of these. As for the rest of it, the family spend the duration of the play from morning until late at night, arguing, carping and living amongst its past sins, grief, frustrations and losses. At one point we are reminded of this when Mary says “The past is the present isn’t it? It’s the future too. We all try to lie out of that, but life won’t let us.”
Director Rob Croser’s hand is firmly on this production. He has produced (and reduced) a sombre but beautiful tragic family piece of serious theatre.
The detailed design by Rob and David Roach is a multi-layered living room of the Tyrone’s and is redolent of its time and place. Costumes by Sandra Davis and Angela Doherty – the same.
The performances are all from the top drawer with Bronwyn Ruciak shining as Mary,wife and mother never getting over the loss of her beloved father, her son and now possibly Edmund her youngest.
David Roach as James Tyrone gives another fine performance, although he often raises his voice perhaps more than the playwright envisaged he should.
As older son Jamie, Angus Henderson is an aggressive drunk and Benji Riggs as younger son Edmund, is physically and emotionally accurate. As the maid Cathleen, Heather McNab is a suitable foil for Mary.
Mr Croser has melded the performances of his actors into an ensemble par excellence providing us with the reflection upon leaving the theatre after watching a family accuse, deny, argue and forgive that, “…there but for the grace of God…..”