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Review: Long Day's Journey into Night 

Tyler Gillespie on a downtown production of Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer-winning play.

click to enlarge long_days_journey_cr_john_barrois.jpg

Photo by John Barrois

A family plagued by consumption, suspicions and paranoia unravels in painstaking fashion throughout Long Day's Journey into Night, Eugene O'Neill's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama currently being presented by Promethean Theatre Company and Four Humours Theater. In the show's four-person family, there's a "dope fiend," an alcoholic and, worst of all (by their standards), two actors. This lineup may sound like the family could throw a greatparty, but the members just want to talk about their problems.

  The entire show takes place in the living room of a summer home in the course of a single day. The wood-paneled set and emerald green couch look like a throwback summer beach house.

  Directed by Stephen Eckert, the drama starts with a seemingly well-adjusted family talking and joking, but after 15 minutes of banter, the conversation devolves into a marathon of conflicting anxieties. For more than three hours, the members fight and deceive each other. They drag their shared history through the mud before they wipe their shoes and fix themselves a whiskey, collectively downing nearly two bottles during the day.

  The characters are emotionally embattled, and the show doesn't lift anyone's mood, but it thoroughly explores family dynamics and hysteria. And the acting is very good.

  After the birth of her youngest son, Edmund (Glenn Aucoin), Mary Tyrone (Mary Pauley) was given morphine by her doctor to ease her pain. She became addicted. This causes problems in the family, ­­especially between Mary, who sometimes loses touch with reality, and her husband James (Michael Martin), a gruff, miserly man who somehow comes off as lovable. Mary's adult sons, Edmund and Jamie (Todd d'Amour), are complex characters who share a love-hate relationship. Edmund has fallen into poor health and the brothers grapple with their feelings. But most of the turmoil centers on Mary, who is brutal, sad and yet dignified and who throws out conftrontational laments such as, "I am alone. I have always been alone." It was a delight to watch Pauley's deranged Mary, who she played in a haunting way almost literally, since Mary becomes ghostlike.

  Long Day's Journey into Night makes good on the "long" in the title, but it's full of drama and is ultimately a compelling exploration of mental and physical disease and family dynamics.

  The theater at Art Klub occupies an intriguing warehouse space, but on the night I attended, space heaters were inadequare to warm it. Audiences should dress appropriately. — TYLER GILLESPIE


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