Discussion of Long Day’s Journey into Night overheard in the audience before a different theatre performance the same month:
“It was long. And depressing.”
“Yes. It was supposed to be. So you understood it.”
The Citadel production of Eugene O’Neill’s famous work that started their 2013-2014 season starred Tom Wood as the father, Brenda Bazinet as the mother, John Ullyatt and David Patrick Flemming as the sons, and Lisa Norton as the maid.
It was set in the 1920s, in the comfortable-looking New England summer home of a middle-aged theatre director, in one of those families where nobody talks about problems directly but circles around and around the unmentionable topics, changing the subject to some problem they’d rather talk about. One of the unmentionable problems is the younger son’s health. Eventually they need to admit that he has tuberculosis and needs to take a cure at a sanatorium, but even that relatively blunt declaration may have been slightly lost on a few young audience members because of course they used the word “consumption” rather than tuberculosis. The mother has another unmentionable problem, which they are coy enough about that it took me a long time to figure out that it was a painkiller addiction rather than a drinking problem.
The play was well done, and in places so credibly intense that I found it difficult to sit through. That is probably why I didn’t finish writing it up until now.