Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 28, 2012

Long Day’s Journey into Night

Majestic Theater, West Springfield, MA
through April 1, 2012
by Robbin M. Joyce

Long considered to be his masterpiece, "Long Day’s Journey Into Night" is a heartbreaking, semi-autobiographical depiction of Eugene O’Neill and his family. The play takes place in the summer home of the Tyrone Family on the Connecticut shore in 1912.

The set, designed by Amy Putnam and Shawn Hill, and the lighting, designed by Daniel D. Rist, have combined to create a summer home that feels simultaneously inviting and daunting. It has a façade of richly-stained, intricate woodwork while creating grimy pockets and deep shadows in the corners that could hide topics too painful to discuss. At the hand of Sound Designer, Mitch Chakour, Act II is punctuated by a haunting fog horn that could either help the wayward find their path or serve to remind them that they’re hopelessly lost.

Under the direction of Rand Foerster, the Majestic has let the light shine to reveal the shortcomings of the Tyrone family; undoubtedly to the consternation of James Sr. who isn’t interested in helping the "electric company get rich." Kenneth Tigar, as James Sr., plays a venomous and stingy miser. Although believable as the short-tempered, overbearing patriarch, he just misses the sorrow over watching his family disintegrate before his eyes and the regret of choices made. Beth Dixon, as his wife, is dressed in a beautiful costume designed by Elaine Bergeron. She wheels through her lines, rather than wading through them, giving the impression that she is manic rather than addicted to a sedative. Dan Whelton, as Edmund, appropriately garners sympathy as the sickly younger son who desperately loves his mother and is undeniably crushed by her addiction. Chris Shanahan, as James Jr., is less believable as the jealous, self-loathing older brother. Kait Rankins adeptly provides some much needed comic relief as Cathleen the maid. The story and the actors circle and skirt issues, take stabs at each other and then try to sweep every hurt back into the corner where it doesn’t have to be seen; all under the hope for a better future that can’t exist in an uncommunicative world of addiction and shattered dreams. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, they all give engaging performances as evidenced by the standing ovation at curtain call.

Mary says, "The past is the present, isn’t it? It’s the future, too. We all try to lie out of that, but life won’t let us." The cast takes us on an alcohol-fueled, deeply moving and emotional journey through past and present; don’t let the future slip by without catching this performance.