Long Day’s Journey Into Night

 Long Day’s Journey Into Night is Eugene O’Neill’s most autobiographical work. It is also widely considered his masterpiece, earning him a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1957. 

 Sydney Theatre CompanySydney Theatre
Saturday, 3 July, 2010
STCLong Day’s Journey Into Night is Eugene O’Neill’s most autobiographical work. It is also widely considered his masterpiece, earning him a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1957. The narrative follows a family across one day that both changes their lives and reinforces existing problems and relationships. Mary Tyrone (Robyn Nevin) has recently arrived home from the sanatorium and is struggling to recover from a drug addiction. Her husband James Tyrone (William Hurt) is a former actor who, having been forced to give up that stage, is trying to make money through buying and mortgaging property. One of their sons, Edmund, (Luke Mullins) has been sick for some time, whilst their other son James Jnr (Todd Van Voris) lives beyond his means, indulging in city life. As Mary loses her battle with drugs the facades of family life are pulled aside to reveal four people struggling with addictions of their own. The family alternate between vicious arguments and expressions of love while they battle through their dysfunctions. The autobiographical nature of the work becomes apparent the further the play progresses as the conflicts and hardships ring gut-wrenchingly true. William Hurt is spectacular as the rough father and supportive husband. He plays his character’s flaws with a conviction that stings of reality and interacts with a gruff affection that speaks true of so many fathers. His calm, steady presence on stage stabilizes and guides a strong production. Robyn Nevin as the mother gives a striking portrayal of a difficult role. The nuances of insecurity and denial in her behaviour are artfully embellished as she descends into addiction. The slow unravelling if her character is well handled, culminating in a final scene that is both beautiful and disturbing. As the brothers, Luke Mullins and Todd Van Voris are remarkably different, settling into the show to give a strong performance together in the second act. They present a believably damaged sibling relationship consisting of arguments and enabling. Emily Russell gives a bold performance as Cathleen the maid, bringing several strong comic moments to the piece and providing contrast to the complex family dramas. Whilst it is indeed a long journey (coming in at around 3 1/2 hours with intermission) director Andrew Upton has done justice to a great piece of theatre. The relationships at the heart of the piece are intricately constructed and instantly believable. Upton’s artistic input really hits its stride in the second act as the home is slowly drawn apart and the action becomes more a part of the real world. In complement to this, Michael Scott-Mitchell’s angular set of overlapping arches brilliantly evokes the unwelcoming home and the gradual alienation caused by addiction. Max Lyandvert’s music and sound design are well crafted and strongly evocative while Tess Schofield’s costumes and Nick Schlieper’s lighting design provide delicate visual detail. Sarah Giles as Assistant Director, John Bolton as Movement Advisor and Charmain Gradwell as Voice and Text Coach all contribute to a smooth and well crafted production. Bookings: Call (02) 9250 1777 Until 1 August 2010

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *