Aisle View: Long Night’s Journey

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Jessica Lange in Long Day’s Journey into Night.

 
 

Photo: Joan Marcus

 
 

The Roundabout has just wrapped up one of its finest seasons in memory, with smashingly good productions of Noises Off, The Humans, The Robber Bridegroom and She Loves Me. Their 50th season ends on not quite so high a note with an above-average–but merely “above-average”–revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night.

 
 
 
 

There was a time when even a satisfactory production of this masterwork was much welcome; it took thirty years for the famously long-and-weighty four-hour drama to be revived on Broadway. O’Neill wrote the semi-autobiographical play in 1942, sternly prohibiting publication until 25 years after his death (which occurred in 1953). It was nevertheless published and produced soon thereafter, in 1956. In the second thirty years, though, we have seen productions starring Jack Lemmon; Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst; Brian Dennehy and Vanessa Redgrave; and–off-Broadway–Brian Murray and Frances Sternhagen. And that’s just in Manhattan.

 
 
 
 

What Jonathan Kent’s production has going for it, foremost, is a bravura performance by Jessica Lange. One expects that critic and audience reports will begin with encomiums for Ms. Lange. Deservedly so, likely followed by a Tony nomination next Tuesday morning. But when people stream out of Long Day enthusing about the actress playing Mary Tyrone–the morphine-addicted wife and mother of the brood–you can be sure that something is lacking. Colleen Dewhurst and Vanessa Redgrave were highly praised for their portrayals in 1988 and 2003, respectively, but in each case they were matched by a towering leading man.

 
 

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Gabriel Byrne and Jessica Lange in Long Day’s Journey into Night.

 
 

Photo: Joan Marcus

 
 

Lange is not. Gabriel Byrne is a fine actor, as he has demonstrated in his two past Broadway appearances (in O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten and A Touch of the Poet). But James Tyrone–the character–is not a fine actor, at least at the time that O’Neill sought to memorialize him. He is a grand, scenery-chewing barnstormer who has long past traded talent for fame. While this does not necessarily translate into how a man behaves in his living room, away from the audience and the greasepaint, James Tyrone appears to need at least some bravado. Once or twice in the fourth and final act, Byrne does indeed fall into dramatic poses (as when he climbs on the table to reach the chandelier, suggesting he’s mounting the parapet for a final assault against the enemy). Byrne’s fourth act is quite effective; there’s a thrilling moment, here, when he tries to hide his shame behind a handful of playing cards. But his performance is way too long in simmering, leaving full attention on Mary. All told, we feel like we are watching The Mary Tyrone Show–O’Neill’s own version of I Remember Mama–for too much of the evening.

 
 
 
 

Lange–who first played this role in an unrelated 2000 production in London–is matched by Michael Shannon, as the wastrel brother Jamie. Shannon (Bug, Killer Joe and the recently opened “Elvis and Nixon”) is one of those actors who seem incapable of giving a less-than-mesmerizing stage performance. O’Neill filled this role with despair, and Shannon serves it to us drink by drink. But Shannon and Lange, with a partial victory by Byrne, are not quite enough. John Gallagher, Jr.–a Tony-winner for Spring Awakening–simply doesn’t work out as stand-in for the playwright. The wrong actor in the wrong production, he doesn’t seem tortured, frail-with-consumption, or part of the family Tyrone whatsoever.

 
 

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John Gallagher, Jr. and Michael Shannon in Long Day’s Journey into Night.

 
 

Photo: Joan Marcus

 
 

Director Kent has impressed us in the past with the Diana Rigg Medea and in the present with Imelda Staunton’s towering Gypsy. He made a jumble of the Brian Stokes Mitchell Man of La Mancha, though, and he does not show a firm hand here.

 
 
 
 

Even so, this is a welcome opportunity to see the play, and the chance to see a top-flight performance by Jessica Lange. But when you leave Long Day enthusing about the actress playing Mary Tyrone–well, that doesn’t seem to be where O’Neill was heading.

 
 

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Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night opened April 27, 2016 and continues through June 26 at the American Airlines Theatre

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This Adorable Little Girl’s Friendship With An Owl Lawn Ornament Is A Hoot

 
 
 
 

Sylvie and Whootie are BFFs. They take car rides together and play together; they even nap together — snug as a rug, side by side.

 
 

Sylvie is 1-year-old girl who lives in Massachusetts. Whootie, on the other hand, is an owl … lawn ornament.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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The little girl’s love for her owl friend first caught the Internet’s attention earlier this week when Sylvie’s uncle, Pat Tobin, shared a few photos of the unlikely duo on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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According to Sylvie’s mom, Rebecca, Whootie had actually been a gift for her husband.

 
 

“It was meant to scare birds from his boat,” she told ABC News. “But Sylvie immediately took to the owl, bending down and picking it up, and saying ‘Hi owl! Hi owl,’ over and over. I think she found the bird curious and endearing.”

 
 

Since their first meeting a few weeks ago, Sylvie and Whootie have been inseparable, says Rebecca, and the bond is clearly a unique one.

 
 

“Whootie is the first toy she’s insisted on sleeping with. She had a lot of things she has passing fancies with, but we think her friendship with Whootie is special — almost like she views him as a peer,” Rebecca said.

 
 

But it seems Sylvie’s love for owls actually stretches back to a pre-Whootie era.

 
 

“We have a bedtime book about owls that she loves, and we read it every night. We also have a lullaby video of an owl singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ that she loves and pretty much watches every night. So I think she associated this owl with those owls,” Rebecca told Buzzfeed. 

 
 

Sylvie’s affection for this particular owl, however, appears to be one not shared by members of her family: 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Teen Totally Freaks Out When Her Parents Show Up At School Dance

 
 
 

To teens, parents can be a bit embarrassing. So you can only imagine a 14-year-old’s horror when both her mom and dad show up at her high school dance to surprise her … and to capture her reaction on camera.

 

Earlier, Beth Bagley, a freshman, had made her parents promise not to chaperone the school dance, perhaps to ensure there would be no awkward parental run-ins.

 

And so Beth was happily dancing to the music with her friends, having a fabulous time, when she was suddenly interrupted by both her parents. They were at first just filming her dancing — but then found themselves filming her truly epic reaction.

 

“Get out!” was the only thing the mortified teen could muster. 

 

Beth’s father, Judd Bagley, said he and his wife, Kristen, thought it would be fun to surprise their daughter — not to embarrass her — and to watch her having fun.

 

Judd was not only surprised by his daughter’s reaction, he’s also been blown away by the video going viral.

 

He posted the video online just over a week ago and it has since gotten over 750,000 views on YouTube. 

 

“I’m shocked anybody beyond the few friends I put the video online for would see it,” Judd told The Huffington Post. 

 

As for folks concerned about Beth’s embarrassment, just know she isn’t hiding under a rock somewhere. 

 

“Beth is having a great time with this,” Judd said. “Her spunk and sense of humor are both the reason she comes off so hilariously in the video and the reason she’s able to laugh at this situation and the unpredictable nature of the Internet.”

 

Well played, Mama and Papa Bagley. 

 

 

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Moms Get Honest About Postpartum Depression In Powerful Video

 
 
 
 
 
 

For women struggling with postpartum depression, one of the most powerful tools is the knowledge that they’re not alone.

 
 

In an emotional new video from BuzzFeed, four moms who experienced postpartum depression share their stories and offer advice to other mothers going through hard times.

 
 

From the moms’ descriptions of how they felt, to their different ways of dealing with the issue, one message is constant: You can get help and get better.

 
 

 

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.