A Looooong Day's Journey into Night

William Hurt Is Back!


Well, no one ever claimed that the O'Neill's later plays were emotional comfort food. If you go, expect a draining and cathartic process that demands your engagement. And, for godsake, bring a full flask -- its not only appropriate, but damn necessary to nurse some whiskey while you spend a few hours enveloped in another man's personal Hell. It'd be impolite otherwise.

But its not for everyone, and no one can be blamed for becoming bored or exhausted. Just be glad it wasn't an unabridged performance of the Iceman Cometh!
Long Day's Journey Into Night may have been a fresh example of the American dysfunctional family but it has been so thoroughly absorbed and parodied that I don't know what could make it seem vital again. I've seen the film with Ralph Richardson/Katherine Hepburn, and heard the LA Theatreworks production in the last decade and find I'm laughing at more of the show as time goes on. Actors can only do so much with their material. Just last October, Portland got to see August Osage County, which covers much of the same ground but does so with an extended family, a touch of Tennessee Williams, and a lot more laughs.
Ms. Hallet's review is on the money, in my humble opinion. This production is long and dated. William Hurt's performance is the least compelling. He delivers his lines like an actor trying to act, not like a real life person would. Most of the time he doesn't even look at this fellow actors, squinting or looking over them. If this is his choice of technique to emphasize the father's non communication, it doesn't work and is more theatrical than natural. In the end, I found myself watching a play that really left me cold and not emotionally involved. I pitied the characters and wanted to leave recommendations for a good family therapist on the stage as I left. The set design doesn't help. It, as well, is dark and theatrical. Abstract in design, it reminds you you are watching a theatrical production. Instead of being invited into the home and lives of these characters you are invited to watch them as perhaps you would observe creatures in a laboratory. In the end, if you can be absorbed watching a dysfunctional family for over three hours, this play is for you.
Totally agree with this review and the comments by lippp made on Aug. 22. We were visitors to Portland and thought this would be a really special evening. We walked out at intermission - highly disappointed in Hurt's performance (mumble mumble), our being in the balcony in such a large venue for a play that needs to be in a smaller site, and the unattractive set. We went to Powell's to buy the script just to understand it. (At age 67 I'd never had the pleasure of becoming familiar with it and thought I'd expand my horizons - fiddle!)
I saw it last night and left at intermission. I totally agree with the review. What a disappointment! Hurt had about one genuine [looking] moment, and I've always enjoyed his screen performances. His delivery was really excruciating since he was not only mumbling but doing so in a staccato fashion, as though he wanted to just get through his lines and wait for the next actor. His physical responses to the other actors were just flat out puzzling. And why did they decide to let us see the lighting rather than extending the set frame out -- and the ringing phone from the balcony??!! Odd choices, really.
We attended Saturday evening, and the four of us confirmed our individual assessment during the intermission. Mr Hurt's lines seemed rushed, not sure if that was the role or if it was William, and the play lacked direction.
The second half's long pointless monologues became so absolutely painful, that I had all but forgotten the story's undertones.
All the actors did a great job, however, I felt Todd Van Voris's first half performance was especially superb; his role as a rambling drunk in the second half was done well, but it wore thin quickly (not his fault).
The increasing sounds of creaking chairs confirmed I was not the only person ready to leave before the shows anti-climatic conclusion.
I love Artist's Rep Theater, but this was a left down.
I have to agree with all the critical comments. What a slow, plundering disaster - except for Robyn Nevin - who's performance was compelling and a welcome respite from the other three poor to terrible performances. She appeared all the more brilliant because of what/who she had to work with. Willam Hurt? What up? OMG - Shirley hit it on the head - "stacatto mumbling" - and what was with the squinting? Todd Van Voris was irritating in the beginning but I do agree that his performance was more believable than Hurt's and Mullin's. It seemed like Mullin's could not find the right accent and seemed hysterical at times.
The set was awful to the point of being distracting. Faux concrete made no sense for the time period and what was with the bright red frame? Truly bizarre color choice - did not work.