Long Day’s Journey into Night at Eclipse Theatre Company | Theater review
Susan Monts-Bologna’s Mary Tyrone dominates Eclipse’s revival of O’Neill’s family tragedy.
By facing up to his own unhappy childhood, Eugene O’Neill created a modern-day Greek tragedy and achieved the high-water mark for American drama. The four Tyrones—the family at the center of this 1941 masterpiece—may not suffer as much as the gang from Oedipus Rex, but they’re just as much at the mercy of fate. The unchangeable past has set them on the road to destruction, and their undoing unfolds with a horrible inevitability.
There’s really only a single reason to see Nathaniel Swift’s staging of the play, but it’s a good one: Susan Monts-Bologna’s outstanding performance as Mary, the Tyrone matriarch in the grips of a morphine addiction and a heart-piercing loneliness. Speaking rapidly and at times as if to herself, with her hands fluttering around her face and hair like nervous hummingbirds, Monts-Bologna’s Mary seems both hunted and haunted, retreating further into her selective memory until she finally becomes her own ghost. Even her voice grows softer over the course of the play, until it too reaches the vanishing point.
The actors who play Mary’s husband and two sons are competent but come across as supporting players instead of members of an ensemble. Patrick Blashill brings a boorish charm to patriarch James, a famous actor obsessed with money. But he lacks the charisma of the onetime matinee idol. As sons Edmund and Jamie, respectively, Stephen Dale is too sardonic and Joe McCauley rattles off his lines like an auctioneer.