The United Players of Vancouver
Journey into Night
Venue: Jericho Arts Centre Dates: 6 - 29 June 2003
Reviewer: Jane Penistan
Bernard Cuffling Co-Director Anna Hagan Set
Full marks to The United Players for presenting this powerful American classic and for doing it so well. Bernard Cuffling and his co- director, Anna Hagan have laid bare all the frailties and the difficulties of this theatrically oriented family, but have retained the warmth and compassion of an enduring family relationship.
Set in their summer home, in one day in August 1912, the play spans the life of the Tyrone family. Here the furniture and costumes - particularly those of the women - are redolent of the of the turn of the century, and the well chosen incidental music is unobtrusive.
Centre of the play is Mary Tyrone, wife of a retired actor manager of a touring theatre company. Karen Austin brings a deep understanding of the mental turmoil of this once strong, but now slowly deteriorating character. Don S. Williams is the irascible authoritarian James Tyrone, a successful actor who cannot forget the appalling hardship and poverty of his earlier years. After their marriage, Mary has travelled with James'company, living a nomadic life and longing for the comfort and stability of her own home in which to bring up her children. This she and James now enjoy. Their two adult sons still live with their parents. Jamie (Robert Turner) is an unwilling actor who has difficulty
finding work, while his younger brother Edmund (Gerhard Maynard) is in poor health. Both boys find their father's parsimony unacceptable and think him inconsiderate and unsympathetic, resenting his pater familias authority, though they are both dependant on him. Mary still regards her sons as children to be looked after, although they are now looking after her as she becomes more and more dependant on drugs.
Brought face to face with the fact that Edmund is suffering from tuberculosis and needs professional care in a sanitorium, each one reacts differently and their differences lead to vituperation, the airing of long festering resentment, accusations and general family friction The men seek solace in alcohol, and so, unexpectedly does Mary. Still unwilling to believe that Edmund must leave her for another's care, in her loneliness, she finds comfort in the company of her maid, Kathleen, delightfully played with true Irish speech by Keej Mullen. Together they while away the evening with the whisky bottle, waiting for the men to return from their carousing for supper. This scene is full of warmth, light and humour. The men return companionably and the true humanity which binds this family together is apparent.
This late, somewhat autobiographical play was not presented in O'Neill's life time but has since become an accepted masterpiece of American theatre. It involves its audience in the lives of these all too fallible characters in its presentation of the endurance of the human spirit.
Long Day's Journey into Night runs at the Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery, Thursday -Sunday at 8.00 p.m. June 6 - 29, 2003. Tickets at the door are $10.00 - $15.00, or for reservations and informaation call 604-224-8007, or visit www.unitedplayers.com.© 2003, Jane Penistan