THE cast of American playwright Eugene O’Neill’s classic Long Journey into the Night, which opened at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal last night, brought to life the horrors of addiction that can plague family life.
The play, which is set in the summer home of the Tyrone family in Connecticut, follows the lives of James Tyrone (played by David Suchet), Mary Tyrone (Laurie Metcalf) and their sons James Jnr (Trevor White) and Edmund (Kyle Soller).
The action takes place over one day and then into the sleepless night. We are first introduced to the seemingly easy-going Irish-American actor James Tyrone and his elegant wife Mary. We then discover that Mary has recently been treated for an illness, although it is not clear what.
The family are worried about Edmund’s health and despite each person’s attempts to maintain some sense or normality, cracks in their relationships soon begin to appear and we soon find out that while the men are all addicted to alcohol, Mary is a morphine addict.
The play depicts the complex power dynamics between father and son, siblings and husband and wife, as well as the sense of betrayal and reluctance to take responsibility for their actions.
This is not an easy play to watch at times because of the brutality of the situation. However it is not without humour and there are some effective light comic touches, mainly in the first half.
But it is the rich characterisation that really sets it apart and you certainly feel that all the actors pour every ounce of their energy into their performances.
Suchet conveyed the part of the bitter and resentful father well and expertly managed to pull off an American accent with an Irish lilt. In addition, his passionate delivery hinted at the classic Shakespearean actor James longed to be.
Long Journey into the Night is set in a single location, the front room of the Tyrone’s house, and the beautifully crafted stage set perfectly evoked the place and era. At first it feels welcoming and homely but it goes on to represent the difficulties experienced by the family in the four walls.
Of course, they could all leave and go their separate ways - but something seems to draw them together and their only escape seems to be drugs or alcohol.
• The play runs until Saturday. For more details or to book tickets call the Box Office on (0115) 989 5555 or visit www.trch.co.uk.