THEATRE JOHN NATHAN

The Jewish Chronicle - - Arts&entertainment -

Apollo Theatre, London W1

I can hardly bear this bril­liant play. Eu­gene O’neill drew on his own fam­ily for this, his most fa­mous and har­row­ing work, writ­ten in 1941, though first per­formed posthu­mously 15 years later. Amer­i­can ac­tor Lau­rie Met­calf is so dis­turbingly ghostly as the mor­phine-ad­dled ma­tri­arch, at one point she ap­pears to be prac­ti­cally trans­par­ent. Op­po­site Met­calf is David Suchet as her Ir­ish-born ac­tor hus­band Ty­rone – op­po­site, that is, in ev­ery mean­ing of the word. A phys­i­cally and vo­cally pow­er­ful pres­ence next to Met­calf’s frag­ile and fading wife, Suchet segues into “oirish” blar­ney from the old coun­try and then back to full-blood­ied Amer­i­can with re­mark­able con­trol.

Di­rec­tor An­thony Page’s flaw­less, if less-than in­spired pro­duc­tion is all about su­perb act­ing, not least by Kyle Soller as Ty­rone’s se­ri­ously ill youngest son Ed­mund. It is a per­for­mance that be­longs to a much more mod­ern play, but it is de­liv­ered with such wit and vul­ner­a­bil­ity that you can­not take your eyes of him. ( www.apol­lothe­atrelon­don.co.uk)

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