by Eugene O'Neill
October 26 to December 5, 2010
FOUR STARS! "startlingly compassionate...beautifully realized...a deft touch"
"In this startlingly compassionate exorcism of the playwright's own history, the Tyrone family, standing in for the O'Neills, is absolved of its crimes by its members' own damage. The play's first act...is devoted to plumbing the miserable, oscillating rhythms of their interactions. But as the sun goes down, family matriarch Mary (Caroline Dodge Latta) becomes a morphine-addled "ghost" haunting her own memories (and the beautifully realized set by Ashley Ann Woods). Mary serves as the catalyst for liquor-driven truth-telling among her alternately scornful and self-flagellating keepers: her husband, aging actor James, and their sons, feckless drunk Jamie and O'Neill's consumptive alter ego, Edmund.
"Director Padveen has a deft touch with the family's cycles of rage and retreat, passive aggression and suffocating love, particularly in the second act. Over cards, James (Kevin Kenneally) rehashes to Edmund (an appealingly spectral Bryan Breau) the wretched childhood that schooled him in miserly behavior, and Jamie (Eric Damon Smith), after exhausting his five-buck liquor allowance in town, reveals his terrible nature in a scorching, self-hating tirade. Smith's rubbery grin and flawless inhabitation of the character's dime-store novel slang and shallowly lodged fury are a knockout. And batty, ruinously lonely Mary can always be sensed in the rooms above, a constant reminder of the dividends of spiritual homelessness."
--Melissa Albert , Time Out Chicago Four Stars
"a keen eye and a brimming heart...exquisite"
"Polarity Ensemble Theatre brings a keen eye and a brimming heart to this revival of Eugene O'Neill's classic 1956 play. An epic excavation of familial regrets, O'Neill's semi-autobiographical tale follows a single, incredibly long day in the Tyrone household, revealing a mother's addiction, a father's dashed theatrical dreams, and the failures and dissolution of two sons. If there's a museum quality to Ashley Ann Wood's exquisite, dioramic set, the same can't be said of the performances. The first act feels breathless, but Bryan Breau and Eric Damon Smith ultimately spark like flint and steel as the Tyrone brothers. And Caroline Latta portrays mother Mary's drift into narcotic oblivion with understated craft."
--Keith Griffith, Chicago Reader The Short List: (Recommended)
"a top notch production"
"There are many who call this O’Neill’s greatest play as it deals with a family, The Tyrones and how their lives have turned out. James Sr. ( a touching portrayal by Kevin Kenneally) is a theater person/actor who dabbles in real estate ( although not very successfully). His wife Mary ( a solid performance by Caroline Dodge Latta) who suffers from pains and aches and has taken to pain medication for relief grew up in a different world from that of her husband. They have two sons, one ,an alcoholic (Jamie played by Eric Damon Smith), the other, Edmund ( Bryan Breau) who it appears is dying from consumption. As the story unfolds on this particular day, we also learn that there was a third son who passed away as a child...
"Director Susan Padveen uses the stage at the home of Polarity, a makeshift theater upstairs at The Josephinum Academy located at 1500 N. Bell quite well. Her set, designed with a great deal of reality by Ashley Ann Woods, with lighting by Karen M. Thompson is quite realistic and Angela M. Campos has done a supreme job in assembling props that truly complete the picture that Padveen has drawn from the script. This is a top notch production..."
--Alan Bresloff, Around the Town Chicago, (Recommended)
What it means to be "Jeff Recommended"
The Joseph Jefferson Awards celebrate Chicago live theatre. Seven judges attend the opening night and report their votes the following morning for any elements of the production they consider outstanding.
A show is considered Jeff recommended if there are positive votes from at least 5 judges and at least 4 votes for the same element PLUS at least 3 votes for the same second element, OR there are 20 or more votes from at least 5 judges; OR all 7 judges vote for the same element. When a show is recommended (as Long Day's Journey into Night has been) all members of the Jeff Committee are notified. They are not told what elements of the production received votes. Each member is expected to see the production during the course of the run and submit a ballot voting for any element(s) he or she considers outstanding.
At the end of the season the ballots are tabulated. The top 5 vote recipients in each category are placed on the final ballot. On the final ballot, members may vote in any given category only when they have seen at least three nominees when there are five or more nominations or at least two when there are two to four nominations.
Condensed from the Jeff Awards web site.