Friday, May 13, 2016

Regarding Eugene O'Neill and the Scarcity of Time

Last night I saw Roundabout's revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, and boy did it live up to its title. I've made no secret of the fact that I'm not an O'Neill fan, but last night was my breaking point. At around the three hour mark, I assumed (foolishly) we were near the end, and then spent the final hour with my thoughts caroming among various foci of:

  • imagining disaster scenarios,
  • wondering why they were still talking,
  • debating if I could pull off a pixie cut, and
  • resenting everyone in that theater.

So we're done. I'm drawing a line in the sand. Life is too short and O'Neill plays are too long. I've seen his two "greatest classics," both in much-lauded productions, and if I don't love him from those, I never will.

And now for some lighter fare:

In 2012, following a debate with a friend on the merits of this playwright, I penned a little A-B dialogue summing up Every Eugene O'Neill Play. At the time I had only seen one of his plays and read another. Having seen three O'Neill plays this past year, I can say with conviction that my playlet holds up.


Every scene in a Eugene O'Neill play

Originally posted on Facebook on July 6, 2012 at 10:59am
Character A is onstage. Probably drinking or doing opium. Character B enters.
Character B: I've got a secret and I'm going to be really obvious about it while pretending I don't have a secret.
Character A: OMG what is the secret? Will it destroy all my hopes and dreams?
Character B: Okay, you've dragged it out of me! Here is the secret! Here are all the details of the secret! I will spend half an hour telling you all about the secret, but the REAL secret is that I am lying.
Character A: Wow, that's pretty bad, but I think I can live with the secret you just told me. My hopes and dreams are intact. I'm still drunk though.
Character B: Oh me, too. And possibly I love you.
Character A: Possibly I love you too! Perhaps we can escape this miserable existence together and seek our hopes and dreams!
Character B: Psych! Here's the real secret, that's not what I told you before. This one is really awful and reveals that we are all miserable people who can do nothing but self-destruct in pools of our own sin. I might have killed someone. I often do.
Character A: Fuck. There go my hopes and dreams. I might kill myself, or I might just sit here and stare into the middle distance, as my hopes and dreams gallop apace far, far away. I think I'll drink some more.