Friday, October 18, 2019

The Loneliness of a Long Day's Journey

Long Day's Journey into Night 

Cathleen Riddley, Victor Talmadge, Kevin Rebultan

By Eugene O'Neill
Directed by Michael Socrates Moran
Ubuntu Theater Project
FLAX Building, Oakland

Until Sunday, November 3, 2019

Reviewed by Christine Okon

Long Day's Journey into Night” is a pressure cooker of a play that locks us in with the Tyrone family who dwell in a dreary house by the sea but move past each other like lonely and lost ships in the fog. Eugene O’Neill draws from his own Irish-American roots to portray people gripped by past, present, and future ghosts.

As James Tyrone, the miserly head of the family, Victor Talmadge is a self-righteous, obstinate man who prides himself on providing for his family while withholding needed money for decent medical care for his wife Mary Tyrone, given a delicate vulnerability by Cathleen Riddley who moves like a compass needle looking for true North. Mary revels dreamily in past, happier memories but cowers from reality like a cornered animal desperate to escape. And escape she does, into the temporary peace of morphine prescribed by the low-rate physician hired by James. It would be very easy to lapse into the cliched exaggeration of a crazy “dope fiend,” but Riddley carries her character with dignity and guardedness. It is heartbreaking when Mary’s actions are seen as weakness of character and not cries of pain, but that was not the attitude of early 1900's.

Cellist Andrew Kort and Cathleen Riddley

Jose Rodriguez conveys the deep anger and stubbornness of Jamie, the son who drinks to dull the awareness that he will never be accepted by his father. Kevin Rebultan infuses the character of the consumptive brother Edmund with rage, confusion, and the passion for the most beautiful lines in the play, as when he recounts his time at sea when it was “as if I was a ghost belonging to the fog, and the fog was the ghost of the sea….” As with his mother Mary, Edmund is a victim of his father’s closefistedness.

Victor Talmadge, Kevin Rebultan, Jose Rodriguez

This play references addiction, but what wrenches my heart is how each character suffers in utter loneliness. Director Michael Socrates Moran elicits a deep and disturbing energy from his actors, beginning with an opening tableau, silent save for the plaintive cello playing of Alexander Kort, where each character flinches, writhes, and convulses before moving on. The actors tune in to an inner vibrancy that transcends physical types.

As the characters interact with the hallmark rituals of addiction--blame, anger, denial, secrecy, fantasy, self-centeredness--they helplessly watch each other drown, alone.


"Long Day's Journey Into Night" by Eugene O'Neill, directed by Michael Socrates Moran, Ubuntu Theater Project, FLAX Building, Oakland, Th-Sunday through October 20, 2019. Info:

Photos by Carson French

Victor Talmadge* (James Tyrone)
Cathleen Riddley* (Mary Tyrone)
Jose Rodriguez (Jamie Tyrone)
Kevin Rebultan (Edmund Tyrone)
Alexander Kort (Cellist/Ensemble)
*Actors Equity

Director  Michael Socrates Moran
Stage Manager Vanessa Hill
Production Manager Dominick Palamenti
Set Designer Karla Hargrave
Sound Designer Uriah Findlay
Costume Designer Ralph Hoy
Lighting Designer  Stephanie Anne Johnson
Composer Andrew Vargas

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