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Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Theatre Royal, Glasgow
4 stars
Eugene O’Neill’s late period epic is a tale of monstrously corrupted  
intimacy. While neither parent or sibling sleeplessly pacing the floor 
of the Tyrone clan’s  wood-lined house have actually caused any harm in 
a global sense, but, the damage they inflict on themselves and each 
other has consequences that fester before exploding into the sickly 
yellow light.

It starts innocuously enough in Anthony Page’s slow-burning but oddly 
fast-moving production, with David Suchet’s increasingly compromised 
patriarch James swapping mid-morning niceties with Laurie Metcalf as 
his  fragrant wife Mary and their grown-up sons, feckless first-born 
James Junior, played by Trevor White, and Kyle Soller as his fragile 
brother Edmund. By the time all stumble together for an after-hours 
post-mortem on their sorry lot, their sunny facade has been ripped open 
to lay bare assorted litanies of failure, disappointment, bitterness 
and addiction.

It would be easy to showboat with such potentially bombastic material, 
but, even playing an old theatrical ham more used to touring hotel 
rooms than settling anywhere resembling home, Suchet is a master of 
controlled understatement. White and Soller too relay all the messed-up 
ambitions of such a dysfunctional dynasty. It’s Metcalf who steals 
things, though, as, from the initial tilt of her white-haired head and 
accompanied by a totter, she says much more about Mary’s state of mind 
than O’Neill’s words alone can.

It’s the final image of Metcalf too that lingers at the end of a final 
act where something that almost looks like reconciliation gives way to 
a doped–up vision of a woman who only wanted a home, but got a life 
sentence instead.
 
The Herald, March 27th 2012

ends

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