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Review: ‘Long day journey’ is shorter, now with N95s

Eugene O’Neill, whose extremely detailed stage instructions for “A Long Day’s Journey into the Night” specify even the titles on the shelves, somehow forgot to mention Purell. Also the N95.

Still, they’re there, the props featured in Robert O’Hara’s fast-paced Covid-era renaissance, opening Tuesday at the Minetta Lane Theater in Greenwich Village. Far from masking a classic with some random relevance, they help define (or to any extent unhinder) a good act and influence interpretation for a time. Great illness and new lock.

In the Tyrone family, based on O’Neill’s foundation, illness and stalemate were a way of life. For James (Bill Camp) the illness is spiritual; supposed to be a Shakespearean (like the playwright’s father) trapped in a hugely popular horror movie, he is obsessed with success and a snob by nature. His eldest son, Jamie (Jason Bowen), has the opposite problem: A failure in everything, he begs himself by turning around like he’s not.

For the other two family members, the illness was literal. In the play’s sequel, the younger son, Edmund (Ato Blankson-Wood), receives a diagnosis of tuberculosis from which he believes he will never recover. His mother, Mary (Elizabeth Marvel), improperly treated by a cheap doctor after Edmund’s difficult birth, is addicted to morphine. Her most recent rehabilitation fell apart miserably during a title-long day.

That date, according to O’Neill, was August 1912; The background is family fog Riverside homes on the Connecticut coast. There, James staggered away between travels, talking loudly and doing little, looking as helpless (or unwilling to help) as Mary’s fear of Edmund had taken her away.

Her relapse was all the more painful because the hypocrisy informed it; After all, it began as a result of James’ stinginess. And though the three men were at least as drugged as Mary, her addiction alone was seen as a character flaw: a self-selected humiliation that turned them all into emotional hermits – and quite literally.

However, in the production of O’Hara, the Tyrone lockup was only partly about the shame; It’s also about precaution. When Mary tells James that “this will be over soon” and that his theatrical season – another tour of his tired old play – “will reopen,” we hear it differently. in line with our pre-pandemic expectations. How many products have recently had to assure us that they will reopen?

And all it took to turn Edmund’s tuberculosis into Covid was the discreet snuffing of the word “consume” in Jamie’s question after his brother went to the doctor: “He thought it was . .. right, Papa?” We fill in the blanks as we please; cough is the same.

It is successful if minor surgery is relative. But can a revision that cuts the text in half, reducing its run time from nearly four hours to a little less, still be a “Long Day’s Journey”? Surely the O’Neill family, which allows change, thinks so, in part because O’Hara, as he writes in the program notes, did not add “a single word” in the process of visualizing the “book” this glorious drama into the future we all now live through.” The contemplation is accomplished entirely by evocative or visual means.

The effect is comical at first, as when James shows up in Starbucks and Mary cargo shorts, showing off her improved health, doing yoga. Soon, however, the jokes deepened, creating a sense of vision where we sometimes perceive both our time and O’Neill’s at the same time. Density makes a four-player game feel crowded; Clint Ramos’ living room, littered with discarded Amazon delivery boxes, makes up the unending mess of a lethargic family stuck together for months without a maid. (She was also cut.)

The stories above the house, as revealed through gaps in the living room walls, do not help alleviate the growing claustrophobia; In one of the loopholes, we see Mary repeatedly shooting up. (To judge from the spoon and the flame, she’s currently using heroin instead of morphine.) If this, let alone her vomiting, feels too literal, the predictions are astounding. Yee Eun Nam’s are almost illusory in their abstraction. They suggest vividly the consolation blossoming from the needle, a consolation at least partially detached from reality.

However, we know that no matter what; plays are often performed expressing it over and over again. Mary’s addiction is part of a closed system in which each of the Tyrones is the victim of the victim and the rest are the victims of the rest, while explaining, apologizing and cure. (That’s part of what justifies its usual unusual length.) What O’Hara says so true, whatever the obvious context, is the unceasing rhythm of appeasement and disturbance. mix. These are people who can’t help but pull each other’s scales off, then try to get them back.

If you want to think about our recent lockdown in those terms, this production, even in its relative brevity, certainly allows you. And if you want to think about what O’Hara meant by casting a white actor to play Tyrone’s parents and a black actor to play a son – he said he didn’t mean anything – you’re welcome to do that, too, although you probably won’t have much of an edge.

But if you don’t care about modern medical or racial glamor, the great thing about this “Long Day’s Journey” is that you just need to close your eyes. Indeed, because the revival has been produced by Audible, the Amazon company that specializes in the creation of spoken audio content, when stage production ends on February 20th, it will be your only way can experience it.

What I think you will find with the visual information removed is a very successful and amazing way of reading the play. If it loses some of its accumulated power in the short run, its momentary power usually increases on recalculation. Bowen and Blankson-Wood get the brother connection’s alternating current just right. Unlike many other Jameses, Camp plays a real man, not a melodramatic stage incarnation. These are performances that are not only stage-worthy but also worth watching.

And it’s certainly true that Marvel’s vocal characterization of Mary’s deteriorating – slurred and wheezing and hollow – is one of those things you won’t figure out any time soon. You may even feel infected by it. Do they make Purell for the ears?

The journey of the long day into the night
Through February 20 at the Minetta Lane Theater in Manhattan; audible.com/ep/minettalane. Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/25/theater/long-days-journey-into-night-review.html Review: ‘Long day journey’ is shorter, now with N95s

Fry Electronics Team

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