Cincinnati Shakespeare is my favorite company in town. Not only do I get to see all of Will’s plays that I’ve only heard about, but not seen – but they throw a good amount of classic theater into the mix.
Eugene O’Neill’s masterwork – Long Day’s Journey into Night – is an intimate look at a severely dysfunctional family. In the first minutes, the mother criticizes in turn each member of her family – and those shots are then passed on by the sons and father to each other – the stage is full of ricochets. Gradually we learn the secrets each member of the family carries, the pain and hurts they’ve nurtured.
Dale Hodges is one of the best actresses in our region, and is piercing as Mary Tyrone, who disappears into haze by the end of the play. James the father and Jamie the eldest son are loud and direct and drunk – and very well played – in much of their dysfunction. Edmund, diagnosed during the course of the day as having consumption, has learned to handle, to move along, each of the other family members – and is the only one who can tell each to stop. A lot of power, on the one hand. Too much pain on the other. The best performance, the meatiest role yet, for company member Rob Jansen.
My two play-mates are both Irish American women, as am I. We had all witnessed this behavior in our families and extended families, and had each wrestled with releasing the pain. We could almost recite the lines, particularly between father and sons.
And, for a change, the Enquirer’s Jackie Demaline, did not hate the entire production, but only parts of it. So it must have been a triumph – as the audience thought it was, when we rose from our seats for the standing ovation.