Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

Recommended*** Anyone familiar with Eclipse Theatre Company , knows that each year they select one playwright and devote their three play season to his or her works. This year, they selected Eugene O’Neill. After success with “Ah Wilderness!” and “Beyond The Horizon”, they are completing this year’s cycle with one of his most famous works, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”, which in my opinion falls right behind “The Iceman Cometh” which Chicago audiences were able to view at The Goodman recently.  O’Neill writes ( as do most) from his own experiences and life, mixed with some fiction of course and most of his characters are somewhat dysfunctional. In “Journey”, we are once again in Connecticut, in fact his home located at 138 Pequot Avenue , a summer home along the coast. In this production, the family name is Tyrone and the father, James ( a strong performance by Patrick Blashill) and his wife, Mary ( deftly handled by Susan Monts-Bologna ( who has recently come home from being in an institute for drug rehab) are re-connecting after a breakfast with their two sons, Jamie ( James Junior) played by Joe McCauley and his younger brother Edmund ( Stephen Dale). These are the characters in the play, plus, as always there is an Irish maid  This role is handled by Jaimelyn Gray, who shows that even a small part can be played so that the audience remembers the character. her brogue is a bit thick at times, but for the most part she nails her role.

Eclipse uses the Studio  on the third floor of The Athenaeum Theatre on Southport, which has a smallish stage and less leg room than most theaters and this being a three hour plus production, one might make sure that you use your two intermissions wisely and bring along some “sugar snacks” as this play comes very close to running in real time. The play begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at Midnight. so it does seem close. Smoothly directed by Nathaniel Swift on a very smart set design by Kevin Hagan, we, as an audience get the feeling that the “fourth wall” has been removed and we are eavesdropping into the ups and downs of this family. James is an actor and this home is is summer haven when he is done traveling the circuit. To his wife, however the life they led, which kept her at home once the kids came, was not an easy one and so she turned to drugs. The boys are heavy drinkers like their father and are for the most part, ne’er-do-wells. Their father does keep them from being thrown to the wolves.

It seems that all four of the Tyrone’s have deep problems, some physical, some spiritual and many mental. While in many ways, this is a family with a great deal of hate for one another, they seem to be bound by the love they also have for each other. Despite all the yelling and screaming between them, in the end, they are a family and each makes sure the other is taken care of. It is said that O’Neill, in this play tells his own story and that “it was written in tears and blood”. It was never produced until after his death, so he never got to relive his own life as shared with another audience. There are a great many arguments and the brothers tearing into their father and his “investments’ in property over family needs. They live a charmed life, but not a happy one and as Mary states, they do not truly have a “home”, but rather a house where they come to eat, visit and go on from. (my interpretation of what she says).

Despite the comfort of the seats and the length of the play, this is a slick production with as I said a  great set and costumes by Joel  Ebarb with sound by Amos Gillespie who adds some original music to the scene changes and interludes. The lighting by Chris Corwin was dark in some areas, and while I realize these are mood setting designs and that Swift had input on same, I found it hard to see some of the action. Angela M. Campos fund some amazing props to fill the stage- great books, lots of bottles and glassware ( for all the drinking) and a room that was fill with what appears to be authentic  1912 items. Often, people do not acknowledge some of the hardest working people in getting a production from script to stage and so from me to you, Bravo!

“Long Day” will continue at The Athenaeum heatre located at 2936 N. Southport ( just South of Lincoln Avenue) through  December 9th with performances as follows:

Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at  2 p.m. ( with post show discussions except the closing performance). There will be NO performance on Thanksgiving.

Tickets are $28/ $23 for seniors and $18 for students ( with ID’s).

There are also half price “rush” tickets, same day subject to availability and the seating is OPEN.

To order yours , you can call the box office at 773-935-6875 or online, visit www.eclipsetheatre.com

There is street parking around the theater, some metered some not and bus public transportation will get you close to the door. There is also parking in the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church lot ( Southport and Oakdale) The building is handicap accessible.

To learn how other felt, go to my homepage, go to theatre in Chicago link, click on and then go to review round-up and click on “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

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