Skip to main content

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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…