BWW Review: A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN Illuminates Inner Demons at Warehouse Theatre

BWW Review: A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN Illuminates Inner Demons at Warehouse Theatre

Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten, running now at the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC, is all about struggle.

The Hogan family - father Phil (Ronn Carroll), son Mike (Christopher Paul Smith), and daughter Josie (Kerrie Seymour) - struggle to eke out a living on a rocky, hardscrabble rented farm. They also struggle to get along with each other, and struggle with their own identities. Similarly, the farm's landlord, Jim Tyrone (Sean Meehan), struggles with his own choices: his past, his future, his place in society, his feelings for his family and his tenants, and, perhaps most importantly of all, his relationship with alcohol. Thematically, the play also lives under the shadow of our mythic cultural struggle of Madonna versus whore.

All these struggles come to a head over the course of a long evening of schemes, counter-schemes, laughter, misery, outbursts, revelations and a whole lot of drinking. Under the glow of an indifferent moon, hidden truths are finally revealed.

Kerrie Seymour carries the brunt of the show's arc as Josie, the woman who is dismissed as a cow and a slut while simultaneously being relied upon to serve as the men's physical and emotional anchor. Seymour brings a grittiness and vulnerability to the role that's both touching and haunting.

As her father, the drunken Irishman, Phil, Broadway veteran Ronn Carroll gets most of the evening's laughs. It's a confident, boisterous performance, full of verve and humor as well as a requisite underscoring of anger and resentment. Phil Hogan is not exactly lovable, but Carroll almost makes him so.

Sean Meehan lends a dynamic presence to the role of Jim Tyrone. This is a deeply troubled character and Meehan does a great job balancing that inner conflict. I loved a lot of the tics and repetitions Meehan gave the character, as well as his high energy and charismatic presence. The only downside is that Tyrone seems almost too full of life for a character who's said to be heading straight for death.

Director Mark Sutch mostly steps back and lets the characters lead the drama, giving them plenty of space to breathe. On the technical side, lighting designer Kevin Frazier and sound designer Marc Gwinn each supply beautifully subtle accents to the proceedings.

One of the show's most striking elements is Charlie Calvert's set, which manages to create an amazing illusion in the intimate space of The Warehouse. The off-kilter farmhouse background makes the foreground feel as if it is raked at a severe angle, even though it's physically just a flat, dirt-covered floor. That illusory rake helps give the whole show a dreamlike feel while also psychologically underlining the uphill struggle each of the characters face.

Somewhat ironically, the biggest struggle of the evening - for me at least - comes from the text itself and the velocity at which society and culture has changed since O'Neill's time. In a week when the national conversation centered around an affair the President of the United States allegedly had with a porn star shortly after the birth of his son, do the sordid revelations tormenting Jim Tyrone still resonate as all that shocking? Of course, context is everything, and to these characters that revelation is both devastating and transformative. Meehan and Seymour bring an enormous amount of pathos to the moment and maybe that should be enough. It's certainly worthy of initiating some great conversations and serves as another reminder that we all struggle with inner demons. Indeed, that moon is shining down on all of us.


A Moon for the Misbegotten runs through February 10 at The Warehouse Theatre, 37 Augusta St, Greenville, SC. For tickets and showtimes call the box office at 864.235.6948 or visit warehousetheatre.com

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From This Author Neil Shurley

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