THE HAPPIEST SONG PLAYS LAST by Quiara Alegría Hudes at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Very little rings true here. From mountain of sub plots, current day events and social/familial themes, nothing much of substance is milled. Many familiar pitfalls of new play dramaturgy on display: over use of technology, fascination with social media, too many cuts. Bonus: Implausible homeless guy with heart of gold.

Thru November 1

Theater Review | LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT by Eugene O’Neill at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

ASHLAND, OREGON

9.3.2015 UPDATE I saw the show for a fourth time on August 15, 2015, and it has gotten much, much better since March/April, when I saw it three times in close succession. It appears a number of the issues I called out below have been addressed. I definitely recommend seeing it now.

Original review based on three viewings in March and April of 2015

Solid – but not without lots of small issues and a couple of big ones. Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (LDJIN), Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical masterpiece and family expiation, is hampered by age-inaccurate casting, non existent Irish context and a general lack of directorial vision and style.

Despite the limitations, as this ultra marathon of pain moves on toward its near four hour length in the second half, the sheer fascination of watching a literal reenactment of the psychic alchemy that made America’s first great playwright wins us over. Though he surely did not intend to, O’Neill has assured himself personal and artistic immortality by weaving his own life story deeply into the fabric of this late play, which becomes only more revealing and valuable to fans each year as we move farther away in time from O’Neill’s own era.

Even while the first half may drag a bit and the play ends with truly the worst directorial choice imaginable for O’Neill, the total experience on offer is still rewarding. It’s a good first viewing of the play for anyone coming to it new. Unfortunately it will not stand out for the devoted O’Neill scholars and enthusiasts who have seen the play many times before and travel the world ceaselessly (like ghosts in a Eugene O’Neill play), ever in search of great, defining performances of EON’s work.

As an American touchtone, this long journey into O’Neill’s soul could be (should be) so much more than this.  Especially when done on a prominent national stage like OSF.

LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT by Eugene O’Neill at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

3-stars

Thru Oct 31

The Tyrone family gathers after breakfast (from left, Michael Winters, Danforth Comins, Judith-Marie Bergan, Jonathan Haugen). Photo: Jenny Graham.
Eugene O’Neill’s original repertory company: his family. Michael Winters, Danforth Comins, Judith-Marie Bergan, Jonathan Haugen. Photo: Jenny Graham.

Continue reading “Theater Review | LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT by Eugene O’Neill at Oregon Shakespeare Festival”

Inside OSF’s Thomas Theatre

One of the highlights of opening weekend at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this year was a behind the scenes tour of the Thomas Theatre with veteran designer Richard Hay.

Hay was closely involved with the design of this dazzling space, which was completed in 2002.

He has also worked on scores of shows during his 50 years at OSF.

2013-02-23-OSF-0005
2013-02-23-OSF-0097

Except for today.
Except for today.

2013-02-23-OSF-0098
Right out the window are the mountains around Ashland.
Right out the window are the mountains around Ashland.

2013-02-23-OSF-0088
There it is: "Sometimes - there's theatre - so suddenly!"
There it is: “Sometimes – there’s theatre – so suddenly!”

No friggin' in the riggin', please.
No friggin’ in the riggin’, please.

Inside the drama lab.
Inside the drama lab.

2013-02-24-Ashland-0020
Good theatre takes power.
Good theatre takes power.

Richard Hay and one monster backup generator.
Richard Hay and one monster backup generator.

What we all want in life: Room to store our stuff.
What we all want in life: Room to store our stuff.

Queue the grand finale sequence...
Queue the grand finale sequence… BOOM (rockets) BOOM…

BOOM CRACK (rockets)  It's happening in here.
BOOM CRACK (rockets)… It’s happening in here…

BOOM BOOM WHIZZZZ... Opening weekend 2011.
BOOM WHIZZZZ …Opening weekend 2011…

BOOM BOOM (explosions)  Just another night in Ashland.
BOOM BOOM (explosions)… Just another night in Ashland…

A final flurry.  And then quiet.  Luckily the fireworks go off six days a week for the next eight months.
A final flurry. And then quiet. Luckily the fireworks will go off six days a week for the next eight months.