Review: Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Royal Lyceum

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WITH nearly 60 years of being on stage, Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night has certainly stood the test of time.

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Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Director Tony Cownie revamps O’Neill’s classic story, which won a Pulitzer and two Tony Awards, and has been described as one of the greatest plays written in the 20th century. O’Neill’s semi-autobiographical account covers one faithful and agonising day of the Tyrone family.

The script is a harsh portrayal of a family desperately trying to overcome the past, something that has been built on addiction, lies and mis-trust.

The depiction of this dysfunctional family is an intense tale, which is still very much relatable for audiences today. Written in 1941, though not staged until 1956, the script still feels fresh.

Paul Shelley, Diana Kent, Adam Best and Timothy N Evers successfully illustrate the brutal honesty towards family life. For such demanding roles, where dreams, health and admirations are at a complete standstill, the tension that each cast member creates makes each scene more fragile than the next.

Best’s performance as the dissolute drunken eldest is magnificent to watch. However, Evers’ rendition as Edmund is perhaps the most compelling within the performance.

As the youngest member of the family, Evers seethes within his character to try and show the merest fleck of progression within his life, despite being diagnosed with tuberculosis.

For such a demanding play, Cownie’s direction shows that he’s clearly grasped O’Neill’s idea of the real motivations within family relationships. Janet Bird’s well-crafted set design of the Tyrone’s decrepit holiday home superbly creates a sense of neglect and disrepair within the family.

Accompanied with Tim Mascall’s lighting design, it shows a smooth progression within the story, and the developments within the characters.

With its harsh truthfulness and powerful dialogue, Long Day’s Journey Into Night still stands as one of the most powerful and insightful works by O’Neill.

As gruelling a journey as it may be, it shows as a very promising start for The Lyceum’s 2014 spring season.

• Run ends February 8