On the same day that Houston's Alley Theatre starts performances of Long Day's Journey Into Night, directed by Michael Wilson, Dallas Theatre Center is beginning its own Journey, staged by DTC artistic director Richard Hamburger. After beginning Feb. 25, the show opens March 3 and runs to March 22.
Eugene O'Neill Long Day's Journey into Night was completed in March 1941. Because it was largely autobiographical, O'Neill stipulated that it shouldn't be produced until at least 25 years after his death. His widow, however, allowed the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theatre to premiere it in 1956, three years after he died. A slow descent into darkness, the play depicts O'Neill's tortured family in 1912, when the playwright-to-be was a young man: James Tyrone, the patriarch, a gifted, handsome actor whose love of money turned him second-rate; Mary, the mother, who battles psychic demons and other addictions; Jamie, the alcoholic ne'er-do-well; and Edmund, the consumptive stand-in for O'Neill, who watches all, including his own fears of spiritual and literal decay.
Says Hamburger, "It was the first play I ever read, and I'm finally getting a chance to work on it... This was the play O'Neill built up to writing his whole life. Finally he dropped all the tricks, all the theatrical paraphernalia, and looked unflinchingly at his family face in the mirror."
Comparing productions, Dallas Theatre Center spokesperson, Lisa Taylor told Playbill On-Line (Feb. 24) "Richard Hamburger is taking an expansive approach in Dallas; Michael Wilson is doing a more intimate version, since they have a smaller space. The experience will be very different. They're going the full three hours and fifty minutes; ours runs less than three hours." Taylor also noted this wasn't the first time Dallas Theatre Center and Houston's Alley have had unintentionally simultaneous productions: Tony Kushner's Angels In America had the same double dip.
Michael Kevin stars as James Tyrone, opposite Barbara Tarbuck as wife Mary. Kurt Ziskie, Mark Dold and Tara Gibson complete the cast. Designing Journey are Michael Yeargan (set), Giva R. Taylor (costumes), Stephen Strawbridge (lighting) and Curtis Craig (sound). Other Eugene O'Neill plays include Hughie, Beyond The Horizon, Ah, Wilderness! and Mourning Becomes Electra.
The Dallas Theatre Center launched its 1997-98 season with Alan Ayckbourn's Intimate Exchanges. After Journey, DTC will offer Having Our Say by Emily Mann (April 1-26). Having Our Say shows two African American sisters who take the audience on an opinionated tour through the 100 years of their lives.
For tickets ($16-$49) and information on Long Day's Journey Into Night at Dallas Theatre Center, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd., call (214) 522-TIXX.