Through October 13
LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT Studio Theatre/Stratford Festival
By Augustine Warner
“In Vino Veritas” is the old Roman saying about how truth comes out under the influence of alcohol.
It never seems completely true to me, looking back to a lot of male-female situations where lots of untruths are uttered.
Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey’s Into Night” is a look into a family essentially destroyed by alcohol, his own family.
This isn’t one of those “inspired by a true story” scripts, it’s a lot closer to the reality of O’Neill’s family, destroyed by booze and a truly successful play.
The names are just slightly different, in a play set in the living room of the Connecticut shore summer home of successful actor-manager James Tyrone (Scott Wentworth), wife Mary Cavan Tyrone (Seana McKenna), sons James Tyrone Jr. (Gordon S. Miller) and Edmund Tyrone (Charlie Gallant).
None is happy and successful.
Dad is based on O’Neill’s father who turned a stage version of Alexandre Dumas père’s “The Count of Monte Christo” into a money machine over many decades.
Mom is a druggie who is settling back into her morphine addiction.
James Jr. is a drunk.
Edmund is a bad poet who has TB.
Dad’s money controls everyone else although not in their minds.
Mom says Dad’s penchant for second-hand hotels and cheap doctors are why young son Eugene died.
James Jr. resents relying on dollars from Dad but won’t go off on his own.
Dad tells Edmund he can go to any TB sanitorium within reason, which means what Dad is willing to pay.
Late one night in the last stages of summer, it all falls into place the night Edmund is officially diagnosed with TB, Dad is drunk, Mom is struggling with sleep while drugged and James Jr. is spending the last cash he has in a whorehouse.
Dad starts telling Edmund the price of their lifestyle, maybe not the complete story, a father telling his son something of how he rose from really poor, far away.
Edmund learns a little about the price of comfort and James Jr. comes staggering in and the three talk and try to avoid Mom coming down to find out what’s going on.
It’s also a look at a family destroyed by ambition and demon rum and given O’Neill’s unforgettable portrayal.
Director Miles Potter has two wonderful performances to work with, Wentworth’s James and McKenna’s Mary.
It’s not that Miller and Gallant aren’t good, they are just in the shadows of two old pros.
Peter Hartwell contributed the summer home set, with those strange bits and pieces accumulated in summer cottages.
“Long Day’s Journey into Night” has all of the good points and the bad points of Eugene O’Neill, the length and the depressing content.
It’s also poignant and telling and effective.
That’s why it’s worth seeing, for the script and for some really dynamite performances.
Then, you might need a drink.
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