Theatre Review: Long Day's Journey Into Night - Citizens Theatre, Glasgow ✭✭✭✭

Review by Sharman Prince

Eugene O'Neill's semi-autobiographical play, Long Day's Journey Into Night, makes its mark at Glasgow's Citizens Theatre before the building closes for extensive refurbishment. O'Neill's Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning play concerns a taut day in the life of the Tyrone family of Connecticut in August 1912. Addiction, accusation, resentment and tragedy bleed through as the family face off against each other, bitterly recalling each flaw and shattered dream as each tries to placate their troubled past and uncertain present. As the family try to sustain a fragile facade of cohesive existence, bitter truths of poorly-hidden secrets threaten to upend the precarious balance each sustains. But truth will out as the day succumbs to night.

Dominic Hill directs a fine cast led by the vigorously mesmerising George Costigan as family head, “James Tyrone”, ably supported by Bríd Ní Neachtain as his fragile, tortured wife, “Mary”, and Lorn Macdonald and Sam Phillips as their imperfect, contrary sons. Each portrays a veneer of stable existence with the rotting truth beneath revealing itself as each emotional crutch is disclosed. Dani Heron, as summer maid, “Cathleen”, is equally as impressive; creating a vivid contrast in the production.

The direction gets a bit melodramatic at times but, ultimately, with the superb wooden frame and clear plastic design of Tom Piper and the moody lighting of Ben Ormerod, the atmospheric sound design and musical score of Matt Padden and Claire McKenzie, respectively, it all gels to create an elegant, Gothic atmosphere that becomes reminiscent of a Tennessee Williams memory play with phantoms of the past manifesting to possess the animate present: as day turns to night realism metamorphoses into a haunting tragedy of epic proportions.

Fair warning – it’s a long play but Hill is, fortunately, able to bring out the humour well and it is, in the end, worth taking in this classic play performed by a strong cast in a visually striking production.

Long Day's Journey Into Night is at the Citizens Theatre until 5th May. For tickets and information visit the Citizens Theatre.