“Long Day’s Journey into Night” is a play that holds true to its name. Although it is masterfully written, it can drag on and seem endless if not produced and performed at a superior level. The version currently running at the Yuba College Theatre is superior and brilliant from beginning to end.
Intermission is usually a time to get away from the play one is absorbing, stand-up, walk around and get some fresh air. For me, the fifteen-minute intermission was the long part of the night. I couldn’t wait to get back in my seat and experience the second half the play.
“Long Day’s Journey into Night” takes place in the living room of the Tyrone Family’s summer home in August, 1912. There are five characters in the play, James Tyrone played by Jay Drury, his wife Mary Cavan Tyrone played by Annie Thomas, their elder son James Tyrone Jr. played by Geoffrey B. Wander, their youngest son Edmund Tyrone played by Matt Monaco, and maid Cathleen played by Janet Frye-Stottmann.
All of the parts are well acted. The actors play off each other as if they have been performing together for years. Their chemistry together is perfect.
Jay Drury attacks the roll of James Tyrone with his arsenal of personal experiences and substantial acting skills. From his very first line to his last scene, you can tell that he has mastered the craft of stage acting.
“Long Day’s Journey into Night” may be Drury’s last performance in the area. When asked about this, Drury said, “This will probably be my last show at Yuba College.” But look for Drury to unveil his acting skills in Sacramento after he retires.
Annie Thomas is magnificent in her portrayal of Ms. Tyrone. Thomas is exceptional at making the audience feel sorry for her character though you know she is doing wrong. Her character, Ms. Tyrone, is a morphine addict that tries to hide her dependency from her family but ends up in a drugged-induced stupor that exposes her habit.
Tyron’e eldest son, played by Geoffrey B. Wander, has not come close to meeting his father’s expectations. Instead of being a great stage actor, he is a moocher who still lives with his parents and spends all of his money on booze and whores.
Wander grew up in the local area and attended Yuba College as a theatre major. Though he ultimately became a lawyer, Wander’s acting skills are superb and enjoyable to watch.Matt Monaco takes on the roll of the youngest son who is stricken with consumption. Whether he is screaming in anger or speaking with delicate concern, Monaco plays the part of Edmund Tyrone with grand emotion, an actor you want to see again and again.
Jay Drury had nothing but praise for Monaco. When asked about his costar, Drury replied, “He’s really blooming into a serious young actor, and it’s really thrilling to see.”The loud-mouth, fast-talking Cathleen is played by Janet Frye-Stottmann. Cathleen has the duties of cleaning up the Tyrone family’s drunken, dysfunctional mess. Frye-Stottmann supplies the comic relief in this otherwise highly intense and emotional play.
The set and lighting are pure eye candy that fits the period perfectly. The lighting gives the realistic feeling of a heart-wrenching day from dawn until dusk.
David Wheeler is the director of this Eugene O’Neil classic, a veteran of directing plays, yet this is his first time directing a play by Eugene O’Neil. Wheeler proves he has what it takes to take on one of the greatest plays in American history. You will be missing out on something great if you pass on seeing this play.