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A hard-drinking actor father, a drug-addicted mother and a dissolute brother – Eugene O’Neill didn’t have to look far to find the characters in his Pulitzer prizewinning drama of the dysfunctional, self-destructive Tyrone family.

In the course of a single August day, this lacerating, highly autobiographical play (set in 1912, written in 1941, and first performed, posthumously, in1956) lays bare their domestic tragedy as Laura Metcalf’s vulnerable, ever more ghostly Mary is forced to acknowledge that her younger son Edmund’s illness isn’t just a heavy summer cold.

Taking refuge, yet again, in a morphine haze, she withdraws further and further into a past filled with recriminations which batter at the long-lasting affection between her and husband James, who, in David Suchet’s finely judged portrayal, is both wary and protective, angry and disappointed– and, thanks to his penny-pinching ways, at least partially to blame for her addiction.

And Kyle Soller gives a remarkably naturalistic performance as their younger son Edmond (diagnosed, like O’Neill himself, with TB), as damaged and as fond of the bottle as his cynical older brother (Trevor White) in Anthony Page’s assured production which leaves you stirred, though not, perhaps, completely shaken.

Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7EZ
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Until 18th August
£21.00 - £53.50

- Louise Kingsley


Review: A Long Day's Journey Into Night
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