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Long Day’s Journey Into Night review at Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh

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Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night gets a big, emotionally exhilarating telling at the theatre where it made its British premiere in 1958. If its themes of addiction, regression and dysfunctional family life are dark, director Tony Cownie fashions a compelling and humane production that draws you into its depths while leaving hope of redemption standing.

Cownie’s direction is almost clinically precise. Diana Kent’s Mary Tyrone is initially coherent and objective, but begins to vacillate as her morphine habit starts to show. Kent’s impeccable depiction of addiction allows the complex, emotional interplay between Mary, her sons and husband to remain utterly true as it becomes exposed.

There is a tyrannical turn to Paul Shelley’s ageing actor James Tyrone. As the character builds – and drinks – Shelley allows the briefest glimpses of the love and fear that drive his chronic miserliness to show through his outwardly understanding nature.

Adam Best’s wayward son James Tyrone Jr and Timothy N Evers’ younger brother Edmund seem at first to be clear but largely superficial characters. But as the night darkens and the fog of memory begins to fall, they grow in depth. Best utilises his strong physicality, while Evers gives an engaging portrayal of a young man contemplating his own death.

As the servant Cathleen, Nicola Roy serves the production superbly as a foil and reflecting-board to the family’s emotions.

Designer Janet Bird’s open-framed creation of the Connecticut shore-side cottage has a giant, hanging cloth to one side. Under Tim Mascall’s lighting it becomes a deep, cloying reminder of the oceans of the past in which this family is drowning.

Production Information

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, January 21-February 8

Eugene O’Neill
Tony Cownie
Royal Lyceum Theatre Company
Cast includes
Diana Kent, Paul Shelley, Adam Best, Timothy N Evers, Nicola Roy
Running time
2hrs 50mins

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