|Photo by Sheila Rock|
Starring David Suchet and Laurie Metcalf, Long Day's Journey Into Night is set in 1912 and takes place on one summer's day in the family of James and Mary Tyrone and their sons Jamie and Edmund. With a light beginning, it swiftly develops into an intense, compelling and often harrowing drama of money struggles, drug addiction, consumption and family love-hate dysfunction, deftly punctuated with familiar and welcome comic observations.
Eugene O'Neil didn't go far for his inspiration of this semi-autobiographical play, himself the child of a touring Irish actor and a mother who disliked theatre, and with life experiences of Catholicism, working at sea, gold-prospecting, alcoholism and a spell of convalescence in a sanatorium, all of which and more are touched upon in the play.
In a gorgeous and elegant setting and with mesmeric and sometimes agonising rhetoric of blame, excuses, apologies and explanations, each character is revealed and unravelled throughout the course of the story. The first half gradually builds and leads up to a tour de force performance by Laurie Metcalf in a demanding mood-changing part that instils both sympathy together with a growth in understanding of her family's frustration in her ability to recover, and it's a performance absolutely matched by the wonderful David Suchet's powerfully moving and stirring explanations of his attitudes to wealth and poverty. Kyle Soller gives a poignant performance as the coughingly-consumptive Edmund whilst James Jr's explicit drunken confessions about sibling love and rivalry are the most dynamically-written of the play, both gut and heart-wrenching.
Top-quality, stylish and intelligent this truly is exceptional theatre. At three hours running time, Long Day's Journey Into Night is a long evening and one that demands an emotional investment from its audience, but confidentially it's one that's definitely worth paying for.
Long Day's Journey Into Night is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until March 10. Ticket prices and full details can be found at http://www.trch.co.uk/index.aspx?articleid=15040