'Long Day's Journey' To Be Performed At O'Neill's Monte Cristo Cottage
A handful of audience members watching Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night this spring will not only be witnessing an American classic in an intimate space but will be literally in the room where it happened.
From April 7 to May 6, actors from New London’s Flock Theatre will be presenting (as it also did last spring) O’Neill’s searing autobiographical family drama at the Monte Cristo Cottage, the playwright’s summer boyhood home and the setting for the drama (as well as for Ah! Wilderness).
“Being in that audience, you cannot escape the pain that the family is experiencing as well as the love that they have for each other,” says Preston Whiteway, executive director of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in nearby Waterford, which is the steward of the home and who gave the green light for the project, the first time a full production of the play was staged at the national historic landmark.
For yet a further dose of authenticity, the cast rehearsed at New London’s Thames Club, where ONeill’s father was a member and where he often escaped from his family, before moving rehearsals in the last few weeks to the home itself.
The 1840s cottage is a structure with a wrap-around porch on a small rise overlooking Long Island sound. After O’Neill’s father James bought it in 1884, he expanded the home by moving and attaching a one-room schoolhouse and making it the living room.
“The house itself is just as much a member of the ensemble as any of the actors,” says Darren Wood, the founding artistic director of the 29-year-old Flock Theatre, which presents site-specific productions in the New London area. “Where the audience sits is in the exact position and angle that O’Neill has written it from, as stated in the stage directions, right down to the light switches.”