LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT at the Wyndham’s Theater in London
A huge living room with transparent walls, showing us the transition from morning all the way to the night, and exploring the immensity of the outside world in comparison to the emotional, spiritual and physical world the characters are trapped in. Rob Howell (Set Designer) couldn’t avoid O’Neill’s thorough stage directions, but his inspiration of Howard Hodgkin’s paintings allowed him to express his personal approach and vision to the production.
That’s our first glance to the new West End production of Eugene O’Neill‘s masterpiece Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Wyndham’s Theater in London, directed by Richard Eyre. O’Neill was the son of an actor and grew up in the theater world, that is why he tried to create his own vision of what ought to be said. He believed life was just a ride towards death, there is no hope and every dream is a nightmare. His pessimistic genius is clearly visible in all of his plays and in this production as well. His father used to ask him if his goal was to suggest suicide to his audience members, but as director Richard Eyre stated “I don’t end up feeling that humanity is despicable or death is devoutly to be wished for. On the contrary… I feel reluctant admiration, pity, even hope, for the stricken people who, however savaged and wounded, are bound together by a sort of love.” That’s what transpires at the end of the play, a sense of struggle, the feeling that happiness is never to be found but also a bit of strength, to face and fight against all adversities life offers.
Jeremy Irons plays James Tyrone, and there are no doubts about his talent, but Lesley Manville (Mary Tyrone) deserves special mentioning, as her interpretation was so deep, one could believe she was his/her own relative. The rest of the cast though, Matthew Beard, Roy Keenan and Jessica Regan, deserve the same recognition and acknowledgement.
In comparison to the theater we are used to in Italy, the audience does not need to figure out if the actor is believable or nor, but can focus on how deep each actor dug into the character and how precisely they portrayed it. A special mention goes to the curtain call. Actors returned on stage all together, they bowed, the two lead actors stepped forward and took another round of applause, then they all exited together. The opposite of what we are used to in Italy, where actors exit and enter four to five times. Applauses get fake for the second return on stage, let’s imagine for the fifth.