Long Day’s Journey Into Night
written by Eugene O’Neill
starring Jessica Lange, Gabriel Byrne, Michael Shannon & John Gallagher, Jr.
directed by Jonathan Kent
American Airlines Theatre
June 23, 2016
💉💉💉💉💉 out of 5.
I have seen Long Day’s Journey Into Night. I mean I have really seen Long Day’s Journey Into Night! One goal I have for my theatre going life is to see the DEFINITIVE production of the classics. To be honest when I read the works of the classics (i.e. Chekhov, O’Neill, Ibsen, Strindberg, even Shakespeare) I often get bored – – and worse yet, when I see bad productions I get mad for the waste of time. I know as a theatre teacher I should relish reading these classics – but, come on, they were never meant to be read; they were meant to be EXPERIENCED.I EXPERIENCED Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Four hours flew by without a single yawn or watch checking. All of those undergraduate classes breaking this play down and comparing it to both the Greek classics and to the biography of O’Neill now made sense. Now I understood how this play was not a bore but crockpot of lost possibilities.
This show just hurt with each and every step. Addiction ruled this play and was taking no prisoners. Lies were buried and were now blooming with the most thorny burrs imaginable. I saw every addict I knew in my life and could recall those long, long evenings fighting to get them back on the road to health but failing – fighting but failing.
Jessica Lange was nothing short of brilliant. The stage was hers and she ruled every moment. She was lost beyond words in the past but more present then you can imagine. It hurt to look at her. How a 67 year old woman can fight for these four hours EIGHT times a week boggles my mind. I sometimes have trouble getting through a 90 minute class.
Gabriel Byrne as the patriarch of the family is so often seen as the enemy in that his penurious ways likely led Mary to dope and their son to poor health – but in this production I didn’t hate him. His past had damaged him also – and he too was simply playing out the hurt that was done to him.
No one wins in this play – no one except the audience who can mark an American classic off of their bucket list. If you see THIS Long Day’s Journey Into Night, you will have SEEN Long Day’s Journey Into Night.