I am trying to wrap my head around the production of ‘Moon of the Misbegotten,’ a Eugene O’Neil play we saw on Friday evening in Glencoe at Writers Theatre. I never fell asleep, never dozed off, but perhaps that is more due to the extreme amount of time I have spent resting, due to the viral fight I had this past week. The play is long, a good three hours with two intermissions and there were certainly enough moments where I could have nodded off. I did not.
Nonetheless, I found that there was something truly lacking in the production. If it wasn’t the play itself, which it may well have been, there had to be something missing that prevented a good audience connection.
I felt that the actors were good. I liked them all. If anything, the actor playing James Tyrone, Jr., may present the key to not fulfilling the role of the acting glue that might have pulled it all together. I definitely understood Josie, the woman in love with this alcoholic mess of a man, her portrayal of feelings and confused sentiments made perfect sense to me. Tyrone’s acting, clearly ‘affected by the bottle’ was less clear in motivation and intention, in my estimate.
During the play, I continued to wait for some sort of clarity as to where we were going and for some sort of moment when something of import would happen.
That did not occur and perhaps that was Eugene O’Neill’s point. The hopelessness of the situation for poor people and that no matter what they try, the impossible scenario can just not get better. Add into that the mystery and sadness of a life under the cloud of alcoholism.
I did like the fact that this play was done with a majority African American cast, as that is a very appropriate choice. Again, as actors, I liked them all; it just seemed to have been lacking some gel to make it all truly come together. This doesn’t often happen at Writers Theatre.