Skip to main content

Long Day's Journey Into Night

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars
Light and shade are everything in Tony Cownie's new production of Eugene O'Neill's mighty quasi-autobiographical epic. This is the case from the way the house lights are kept up on the audience during the bright first act of what initially looks like an everyday family breakfast among the Tyrone clan led by the patriarchal James, to the way James' penny-pinching dimming of the living room bulbs reflects the day's ever darkening mood.

“I've never missed a performance yet,” says James at one point, and this is the case both onstage and off for an old ham whose acting career slid into mediocrity years before. James and his two sons, the feckless James Jr and the smart but consumptive Edmund are always 'on', especially when their hopped-up mother Mary is around. Mary's own mask of prim self-consciousness that hides a lifetime of disappointment slips after every hit. Years of gathered baggage has left several elephants in the room, and it's telling that the only honest things that comes out of anybody's mouth is when their inner ugliness is left exposed by booze-soaked exchanges where even the whisky is watered down.

Paul Shelley's James is a more avuncular and less brooding figure than how he's often played, even though in the end he proves as brittle and as defeated as Diana Kent's increasingly wraith-like Mary. As James Jr and Edmund, Adam Best and Timothy N. Evers respectively capture the various shades of pathetic self-loathing in the sons' inability to neither live up to their old man's expectations nor break away from them in a family affair to die for.

The Herald, January 24th 2014


ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

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…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…