“Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is truly a renowned literary masterpiece, from whose own personal life, playwright Eugene O’Neill created a story both evocative and powerful. His writing and style is extremely relatable, with characters so real, their emotions worn on sleeves. From page to screen to stage, this epic drama graces the stage of the Wallis Annenberg Performing Arts Center, with luminaries Jeremy Irons (James Tyrone) and Leslie Manville (Mary Tyrone) shining extraordinarily in the spotlight. This story, like no other, reveals the sanctity of the human spirit, and the need to belong, be loved, and find purpose. The entire ensemble is incredible, each one genius in his/her own right. Jeremy Irons (Brideshead Revisited) has yet again risen to the occasion of a most challenging feat, and his portrayal of Tyrone is a masterful culmination. What we find out about Leslie Manville (Phantom Thread), is that her character Mary has a very strong personality, and when she sets her mind to do something, she follows through. Manville and Irons are nothing short of amazing in taking on this incredible production, here in LA, following their run at Wyndham’s Theatre (West End) and Brooklyn Academy of Music. Rory Keenan, as Jamie and Matthew Beard, as Edmund, are true gems, with standout performances and pithy dialogue, revealing their vulnerability and need for belonging and stability. One line of dialogue reveals the protective brotherly love “If you can’t be good, you can at least be careful.” (Act 1). Jessica Regan is also a standout, as she reprises the role of the Irish maid, Cathleen, from the 2016 Bristol Old Vic production.
It’s very hard to fail at “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”; the monologues, being some of the most compelling in American literature. That said, this production, which didn’t cut any lines, but clocks in at 3 hours and 25 minutes, is a model for how to efficiently stage such a masterpiece. There is also a lot of subtle, yet effective foreshadowing throughout the show. As the foghorn sounds, and darkness descends, the mood changes, as the family wallows in its despair, credit to lighting director extraordinaire, Peter Mumford. Add to this, dialogue and poetry of epic Shakespearean nature, and you have the quintessential tragic drama of its era, and actually timeless.
“Long Day’s Journey…” should be seen in any production on any level, amateur or professional: you will carry it with you for the rest of your life. But this production in Beverly Hills, at the Wallis Annenberg Center, has the pairing of Jeremy Irons and Leslie Manville as James and Mary Tyrone, two of the most indelible characters ever. Jeremy Irons suavely climbs the mountain of James Tyrone in his “bad, good luck” monologue. Leslie Manville plays the lonely, drug addicted mother, Mary Tyrone, former convent girl, without hysteria, just ever so delicately and on edge. There is more than a vestige of love between all the members of the Tyrone family, however doomed and enveloped in fog, their own personal pathos. If you want to experience theatrical history, in a production that will be long remembered, this is it.
Following the opening day performance, the privileged audience attended a reception in the Wallis courtyard, catered by Food & Bounty, and Sipsmith London Gin.
Through July 1