Three famous "Journeys"

  • Updated: January 17, 2013 - 1:35 PM

Critics had these comments about a trio of star-studded productions of "Long Day's Journey Into Night."

Brain Dennehy and Vanessa Redgrave in a 2003 staging in New York.

1956 Broadway, directed by Jose Quintero and starring Fredric March, Florence Eldridge and Jason Robards Jr. It was praised by all the major reviewers, including legendary critic Walter Kerr, writing for the New York Herald Tribune: "Though the four-hour, endlessly savage examination of conscience is deliberately, masochistically harrowing in the ferocity of its revelation, the agony that O'Neill felt whenever he contemplated his own beginnings is not passed onto his audience. It is in some curious and even exalting manner exorcised, washed away, leaving in its place an undefined dignity, an agreed-upon peace, a powerful sense of exhilarated completion."

1988 Yale Rep and Broadway. Director Quintero cast longtime stage partners Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst as the principals. Frank Rich in the New York Times wrote that "the rewarding, if imperfect, production is best approached with rational expectations. Like other renditions of this work, Mr. Quintero's staging illuminates one parent-child axis -- Mary and Edmund -- more brilliantly than the other. But the evening is never less than essential theatergoing."

2003 Goodman Theatre and Broadway. Robert Falls directed Brian Dennehy, Vanessa Redgrave and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a staging that made acerbic critic John Simon ask, "Is there a more unlikely family than beefy Brian Dennehy as James Tyrone, the aging matinee-idol father; British grande dame Vanessa Redgrave as the naïve, convent-bred Mary Tyrone; loutish Philip Seymour Hoffman as the handsome-wastrel elder son, Jamie; and the totally different -- what family is he from? -- Robert Sean Leonard as Edmund, the poetry-writing tubercular younger son, the author's self-portrait? That quartet of loving and resentful, wounding and forgiveness-begging infighters -- sometimes funny, sometimes pathetic and ultimately tragic--is now a car with unaligned wheels lurching ahead on a bumpy road."

ROHAN PRESTON

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