As the morphine-addicted Mary Tyrone in the latest Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's bitter masterwork, Long Days Journey Into Night, Jessica Lange brings stunning colors to the role of a woman clawing her way through fog. You can't take your eyes off her; it's a mesmeric performance...Lange's Mary is a desperate fighter, defensive and manipulative...By turns, she is loving, wistful, lonely, proud, vicious and confused -- but above all, she is an addict...Gabriel Byrne plays her husband, James, with striking weariness and restraint...As their dissolute oldest son, Jamie, the riveting Michael Shannon infuses his climactic drunk scene with acrid dark humor and reluctant, wounded tenderness toward his consumptive younger brother, Edmund (a willfully sincere John Gallagher Jr.).
LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT Broadway Reviews
Reviews of Long Day's Journey Into Night on Broadway. See what all the critics had to say and see all the ratings for Long Day's Journey Into Night including the New York Times and More...
The tenderness between Gabriel Byrne, in the towering role of the fading Broadway actor James Tyrone, and Jessica Lange, as his beloved but tormented wife Mary, brings welcome relief from the overall misery of Eugene O'Neill's semi-autographical masterwork, "Long Day's Journey Into Night." As staged by British director Jonathan Kent and acted by a cast that also includes Michael Shannon, the Roundabout Theater Company's outstanding revival has a lighter tone and softer edges that, paradoxically, impart a deeper sorrow onto this classic domestic tragedy.
The acting company isn't perfect. Gallagher is a bit too modern, and the mostly very good Shannon, known for his offbeat characters, is occasionally an awkward fit for Jamie. (Colby Minifie is amusing as the family's uninhibited maid.) Byrne, though, makes a rich, authoritative, compelling James, an ideal companion for Lange's ethereal, haunted Mary. With her good looks, Lange lets us simultaneously see the lonely, broken woman Mary is and the vivacious beauty she was as a young, convent-educated girl who attracted James Tyrone, already a famous actor.
This is an extremely difficult play to pull off, relying on rich prose instead of overt action and featuring miserable characters basking in overwhelming despair. The performances here are exceptional all around, but the production is likely to grow smoother and more engrossing as the run continues...Lange's Mary is a performance of unmistakable stature and refined acting ability...Lange exhibits more dramatic control, emphasizing Mary's downward progression from denial and erratic mood swings into drug-induced euphoria. As James, Byrne shows vulnerability behind the miserly and defensive exterior.
The revival that opened tonight at the Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre is, in a word, transfixing...by the time this journey was done, I was completely given over to the dark and dangerous spell of O'Neill's masterpiece. It was as though I was seeing it for the first time. This would have been impossible without one of the rarest convergences on Broadway: an all-star cast and director that works as well on stage as they promised on paper...Over a mostly spectacular career, the two-time Oscar winner, who won the Olivier Award for this role, has made psychological complexity and transparency her hallmark...With Lange leading the way, Mary begins this Journey a tragic figure and concludes it a ghost who will haunt our dreams, for a time.
The temptation is to talk all day and into the night about Jessica Lange as Mary Tyrone in "Long Day's Journey Into Night." It's hard not to dwell on the layers of hard-lived experience that appear and reappear, like a collage of time-lapsed photography, on her handsome face...This really is, with perhaps one miscalculation, a stunning revival of this churning family exorcism. Gabriel Byrne has both the grating self-centeredness and a poignant, vain blindness as Mary's husband James...Michael Shannon...makes his towering height and lugubrious mask shatter with devastating, piteous rage as the confessions and the recriminations pile up. A problem, and it isn't a big one, is John Gallagher Jr., a fine actor whose portrayal of the sensitive, consumptive Edmund, O'Neill's alter-ego, feels a bit too contemporary for 1912.
Lange was Olivier Award-nominated for this role 16 years ago on the West End. Byrne was Tony Award-nominated as Jamie Tyrone in 2000's Broadway "Moon for the Misbegotten." They know their O'Neill, and are suited to take us on the roller-coaster ride, set across one day that will prove a turning point in the lives of a troubled family. English theater director Jonathan Kent guides the simple and elegant, nearly 4-hour-long production...Leads Lange and Byrne share an effortless chemistry in which they are alternately tolerant of, and vile toward, one another -- but always easily relatable. That's quite an accomplishment when dealing with a piece of literature that drifts further away from naturalism as the the night wears on.
It's Lange's nuanced, quietly wrenching performance that anchors Roundabout Theatre Company's new revival (* * * out of four stars) of Eugene O'Neill's seminal dysfunctional-family drama...This staging, by British director Jonathan Kent, doesn't pack the emotional or theatrical wallop of its predecessor, but its bleak naturalism remains compelling...it's Lange who haunts us most. Having played Mary on the London stage 16 years ago, she returns to the part with an obvious and profound sense of empathy for this woman who is compared, more than once, to a ghost. Mary's world, outside the drug-induced hazes, is hardly a comforting place, but you'll leave it feeling very much alive.
O'Neill is at his most autobiographical in this Tony- and Pulitzer-winning drama. Repetitive and long-winded too. Even a perfectly tuned production can be an endurance test. Performances aren't all equal in Jonathan Kent's nearly four-hour Roundabout staging. As the morphine-addicted Mary, Oscar-winner Jessica Lange maximizes her meaty role's potential. Lange is blessed with an expressive voice and uses it like a musical instrument -- soft and coquettish, warm and motherly, then barbed and brutal as if dredging words from a bottomless well of despair.
Gabriel Byrne plays Tyrone with reserved, desiccated style...In a Broadway season of big (often too big) performances, Byrne's portrayal stands out for its understatement, and something else, too. Amid all the stinginess, he brings a palpable love to his relationship with Mary (Jessica Lange)...Tom Pye's set design creates a very spacious summer residence for the Tyrones. Lange's performance works against that openness to create Mary's own desperate claustrophobia. It's a big performance, but there's nothing mechanical about it, especially the love that she projects back to Byrne. The great beauty of O'Neill's play is its repetition. He captures the way families can be civil one moment and at one another's throats the next. Under Jonathan Kent's direction, Byrne and Lange handle those sharp changes in tone adeptly to create a mesmerizing dance of death.
One of the more surprising aspects of the latest Broadway revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night, a play defined by its malignant sorrow, is the nervous laughter that often ripples through the audience...Much of the acrid humor that keeps bubbling up comes from Michael Shannon's dangerously unpredictable Jamie Tyrone, the unrepentantly cynical eldest son, a failed actor turned dissolute Broadway loafer. But the heat-seeking center of the production is Lange's morphine-addicted Mary Tyrone...An edge-of-insanity electrical current runs through much of Lange's work...It's that attraction to madness that gives this performance such mesmerizing authority.
...while Kent's interpretation draws out some of scalding comedy percolating beneath the surface of O'Neill's language, there's nothing here that could possibly be described as transgressive or especially revelatory. The result is a perfectly accomplished, if at times perfunctory-feeling; a revival that's easier to admire than love. Of the four main actors, Lange (who played the same part in London in 2000) is particularly strong, giving us a deeply complicated Mary Tyrone - a woman both steely and desperate whose unravelling is the motor of the story.As the elder Tyrone son, Jamie, Shannon brings the full force of his off-kilter intensity to bear - his final act descent into drunken fury is the strongest, and scariest, part of the production.
The close of the play has always belonged to Mary, but Lange gets hold of much of the rest of it, too. Her Mary, a part she first played in the West End in 2000, can seem sweet, flighty, frail, but there's an adamantine spine beneath that softness, one that's been built on need and hurt. When provoked, she can turn as vicious as any of the men and she knows how to make her words cut more cruelly and deeply.
It is only mid-day in the Tyrones' living room...but Mary Tyrone -- powerfully incarnated by Jessica Lange -- is already well on her way back to morphine addiction...It is a portrayal that sustains the audience in rapt voyeuristic attention almost to the end of the 3 3/4-hour performance...Mr. Byrne is humanly warm yet inhumanly fierce; he is immensely controlled, damming a reservoir of anger and disappointment that can flood over him suddenly and just as quickly be contained...At first, Mr. Shannon's passions are overly muted...But in the final act, when thoroughly soused, he seems to fill the stage with bitter energy and confessional emotion...John Gallagher Jr. as Edmund O'Neill's almost-coy portrayal of himself as a young man is tender but also overly callow...This ensemble makes for a compelling evening.
A violent storm front has moved into the American Airlines Theater...it's Gabriel Byrne, Jessica Lange, Michael Shannon and John Gallagher Jr. who are providing the thunder and lightning...Yet you can't avoid the feeling that this tempestuous climate is artificially controlled...[Lange's] voice seesaws between soprano girlish affection and contralto hostility in a single sentence, and more than other Marys I've seen, she is endowed with a robust, uneasy sensuality. You can feel Ms. Lange giving her all to each of her big set pieces, but they often feel too exquisitely self-contained, like coloratura arias in an opera. Ms. Lange is often acting beautifully, but she is also often palpably acting. And her final soliloquy is stretched self-indulgently thin.
Lange plays that drugged-up mother with courage. Her Mary Tyrone has fewer moments of lucidity than most, and too few moments when lucidity and the heebie-jeebies are duking it out before our eyes, but who nonetheless really goes to some dark spots. And there's nothing artificial about that state of her being. It is expressed with profundity and truth. And that, along with Shannon's unceasing attempts to unlock some of these scenes and spill out their devastating emotional content, is about the only truly successful aspect of this strangely marauding and meandering theatrical experience.
Eugene O'Neill is not for everyone. The great playwright's most personal and revered masterpiece is Long Day's Journey into Night, and the Roundabout Theatre Company's star-studded revival at the American Airlines Theatre is three and a half hours of bile, bitterness, and regret, spewed by a family of addicts...director Jonathan Kent's new production feels weathered instead of raw, hollow instead of potent...At the center of the domestic storm is Jessica Lange, who played Mary during a 2000 run in London and has a masterful grasp of the character's fragility...There is such confusion in Mary, such buried resentment, and Lange's ability to portray a woman who is barely more than a ghost provides the story with enormous pathos. C+
Grueling in the wrong hands, the play's relentless attacks and counterattacks have a revelatory power when the right cast comes together. On paper, the Roundabout Theatre Company revival...looks like a "Long Day's Journey" for our time. But I found myself arguing as heatedly with this disconnected production as the characters were quarreling with one another...The actors simply don't meld...Lange, perhaps the most emotionally supple actress of her generation, portrays Mary as cut off from her loved ones by her morphine addiction...she's continuing to pursue the same unsentimental line that Mary, fixated on her next fix, may be even more of a monster than her grandstanding, tight-fisted husband. This approach worked better in London, where Lange played opposite Charles Dance, who brought an imposing patriarchal authority to James Tyrone.
Lange-who first played this role in an unrelated 2000 production in London-is matched by Michael Shannon, as the wastrel brother Jamie. Shannon (Bug, Killer Joe and the recently opened "Elvis and Nixon") is one of those actors who seem incapable of giving a less-than-mesmerizing stage performance. O'Neill filled this role with despair, and Shannon serves it to us drink by drink. But Shannon and Lange, with a partial victory by Byrne, are not quite enough. John Gallagher, Jr.-a Tony-winner for Spring Awakening-simply doesn't work out as stand-in for the playwright. The wrong actor in the wrong production, he doesn't seem tortured, frail-with-consumption, or part of the family Tyrone whatsoever.
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