- ForewordPerformance Reviews
Although no major production of a Eugene O’Neill play seems to be on the schedule for this year, nothing to provoke the anticipation that came with the Goodman Theatre’s The Iceman Cometh, 2013 is already interesting for O’Neill’s plays for two reasons. The first is that this year is, probably, the first time O’Neill’s first play, A Wife for a Life, and his last, A Moon for the Misbegotten, will have been performed during the same year. The former was staged for the first time in decades during the George Bernard Shaw Festival in Toronto in a double bill with Susan Glaspell’s Trifles, and the latter will be presented at the Luna Stage in West Orange, New Jersey.
Between this alpha and omega of the O’Neill canon, many plays have been revived. As always, the late plays are well represented, including three productions of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, two of which are reviewed here. Hughie (also reviewed here) was produced by the Shakespeare Theatre Company. And The Iceman Cometh was staged by the Ensemble Theatre in Cleveland in April 2013. Others include The Emperor Jones in Akron, Ohio (reviewed here); Ah, Wilderness!, which was given a staged reading in Albany, New York; The Early Plays, originally produced in New York and reviewed in EOR 33:1, at REDCAT in Los Angeles; and More Stately Mansions in Danville. Productions later this year include The Hairy Ape in Seattle, Beyond the Horizon in Maryland, and most intriguingly, a reading of The Hairy Ape as part of the NEWYORKNEWYORK Festival, which includes plays with New York themes as part of a forty-eight-play marathon of staged readings by the Labyrinth Theatre Company. [End Page 261]
This last instance suggests the second way that this year is interesting, namely, in the way that productions of O’Neill’s plays are often governed by a blending of theatrical representation and cultural studies. Along with using The Hairy Ape to celebrate New York themes, The Emperor Jones in Akron was staged as part of Black History Month. The Guthrie Theatre’s Long Day’s Journey was coupled with an all-day seminar on the issue of addiction, which included presentations and panel discussions by addiction experts from the Mayo Clinic. The turn toward cultural studies in academia during the last two decades only provides more ways to conceive O’Neill’s plays and the complex, revealing ways they have investigated elements of modern life. [End Page 262]