HOME & Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
10 May 2018 to 26 May 2018
Eugene O’Neill poured his heart, soul and much of his own life’s experience into this play and 60 years after its first performance it loses none of its intense potency.
It’s been performed everywhere, sometimes - it has to be said - almost out of a sense of theatrical duty, than as a rewarding audience experience.
More than three hours cooped up in the company of the warring Tyrone family make particular demands on all involved. On stage, four central characters wallow in their failure and self pity. Off stage, theatregoers are confronted with this concentrated self-absorption and can find themselves constantly shifting allegiance between each member of the Tyrone quartet.
So it’s pleasing to say that this co-production between Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre and HOME works on every level, not least in designer Tom Piper’s three-storey, see-through domestic setting, one that seems to sum up the visible and unfinished nature of the family’s own lives.
Old man Tyrone was once a foremost actor. In his shadow, and after the death of her middle son, his wife took to morphine, while their two surviving sons – one also an actor – struggle to match up to expectations, especially since the youngest is (almost inconveniently as far as the family seem concerned) wracked with tuberculosis.
Like all families they talk over each other, wrestle with regret, anxieties, failure, intimations of mortality, and in their own case confront Catholic guilt. Mother lives on her nerves while shredding everyone else’s.
There are welcome flashes of melancholic humour, but there are also several audience members left in tears at the final curtain. Clear testament to the power of a story that has a haunting currency.
George Costigan as the father, Brid Ni Neachtain (Mary) and Lorn Macdonald and Sam Phillips (sons Edmund and James) give perfectly-gauged performances throughout, along with Dani Heron, as stroppy serving girl Cathleen.
Reviewer: David Upton