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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. VI, No. 1
Spring, 1982


(IN THIS ISSUE)

REVIEWS OF BOOKS AND PRODUCTIONS

3. Long Day's Journey Into Night, dir. Marco Zarattini. Presented by the Nucleo Eclettico, Boston, MA. Closed on April 3, 1982.

The recent production of Long Day's Journey Into Night at Boston's Nucleo Eclettico was a refreshingly honest and intimate one. The acting, the set and the esprit de corps of the entire theatre staff all made for an evening of fine, memorable theatre. Theatre without preservatives or fixatives, at that. Theatre with a hearty sense of commitment not only to drama but to the community at large. Nestled on a narrow side street of the mostly residential North End section of Boston, the tiny Nucleo Eclettico is living proof that less can be more.

The acting, under the direction of Marco Zarattini, was solid and, in general, uncommonly good. Olivia Casey and Ed Sullivan, as the elder Tyrones, both turned in steady and effective performances. Miss Casey seemed a tad too hale-and-hearty for the role of fragile Mary but was more than right for the part when it came time to recall Mary's convent days; then, her performance had a decidedly eerie air about it, a remembrance of things past that was authentic as well as unsettling. Mr. Sullivan portrayed a Tyrone, Sr., who was more niggling than not: one sensed that his pettiness definitely overshadowed the grander aspects of his nature. Tyrone's disparagement over Edmund's reading material--all that Nietzsche, all that Swinburne--had a  genuinely disgusted and confounded quality to it. It was all that Tyrone could do to utter those loathsome, unworthy names in his home, even if only to denounce them. And it was in conveying such nuances that Mr. Sullivan offered something special to the production.

As Jamie, Jim Cooke provided a wonderfully sour and sardonic performance--which came as no surprise since Mr. Cooke did a superb Jamie in the New England Rep's Moon for the Misbegotten two years ago (see the May-September, 1980 Newsletter, pp. 26, 28). Hang dog looks, frayed psyche and rotten thoughts: everything Jamie is and was destined to be. So well did Mr. Cooke's Jamie dispense the straight dope about this or that Tyrone family failing, it was difficult to imagine him as anything but a jaded debunker of life's little white lies, on or off stage. When he told Edmund, "Listen, Kid, I know you think I'm a cynical bastard, but remember I've seen a lot more of this game than you have," the tone was worth a thousand pages of dialogue. Chummy, informative and cadaverous, this Jamie knew all the ins and outs of the American hick-burg dream of which he was a sad, twisted part. It was a pleasure to see Mr. Cooke again.

David Berti gave a fine, straight ahead performance as the younger brother Edmund. He dealt convincingly with all the other Tyrones and their piques, ailments, disorders, prejudices, memories, secrets, loves and hates. Edmund seemed young--but not too young--and the "healthiest" of the lot despite his recently diagnosed illness. Sympathetic towards his family, but at the same time tortured by them, Edmund, in Mr. Berti's playing, made meaningfully clear all his joys and sorrows despite the fog that shrouded all the members of the Tyrone family.

One of the production's unexpected delights was an inspired performance by Rosamond Lang Hooper, whose Cathleen was very funny and very obviously full of the devil. Armed with a rambunctious brogue, she whipped through the Tyrone household like a holy terror, creating more than a little necessary levity to break up the countless dank layers of Tyrone tension.

The set, designed by Marco Zarattini, Alex Okun and Ludmila Okun, was singular. Besides being intimate, it was accurate: it had the tacky feel of Monte Cristo cottage down pat. Upon entering the Nucleo Eclettico lobby, one directly encountered the cottage's summery front porch, complete with mailbox (with properly addressed mail in it, no less). To reach your seat, you had to walk across the porch and enter the theatre through the Tyrones' front door. You then encountered the living room--where all the action of the play takes place--which was level with the first row of seats. The audience formed an "L" around one corner of the square-shaped acting area. The theatre being quite small--it must seat only 50 or so people--the audience was more or less on top of the action, if not in the thick of it. Under these conditions, one most definitely felt a part of the moth-eaten Tyrone turf--the fading, dark red carpet, the chintzy lamps, the creaking chairs and tables, the small, dog-eared library. It was impossible to escape the effects of the dark, frosty atmosphere. Had the play actually been performed in Monte Cristo cottage itself, its set could not have been more effective.

It is no wonder that audience demand held over this interesting Journey for an extra month. No matter where one chose to look, it was evident that special care had been taken to ensure the quality and charm of the production. In doing so, the Nucleo Eclettico demonstrated that it is concerned with more than just O'Neill or theatre. First, and foremost, it cares about people.

--Marshall Brooks

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