Review: Long Day’s Journey Into Night


by Mike Matthaiakis

In the illustrious return of Brian Cox to the London stage after a lot of years, audiences are treated to a masterful performance in Eugene O’Neill’s timeless masterpiece, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Cox, known for his compelling portrayal of Logan Roy in “Succession,” now takes on the role of James Tyrone, a towering figure of paternal authority with a troubled past and a complex relationship with his family.

Directed by Jeremy Herrin, this production presents a stark and unadorned portrayal of the Tyrone family’s domestic turmoil, set against the backdrop of a single day in 1912. As Cox’s Tyrone grapples with his own demons and the challenges of his aging years, he navigates the delicate balance between love and control, revealing layers of vulnerability beneath his authoritative exterior.

Opposite Cox, Patricia Clarkson delivers a mesmerizing performance as Mary Tyrone, the family matriarch grappling with addiction and haunted by the ghosts of her past. Clarkson’s portrayal captures Mary’s fragile psyche with haunting authenticity, drawing the audience into her world of dreams and despair.

Supporting Cox and Clarkson are Daryl McCormack and Laurie Kynaston, who portray Tyrone’s sons Jamie and Edmund, respectively. McCormack brings a restless energy to Jamie, while Kynaston imbues Edmund with a poignant vulnerability as he confronts his own mortality. Together, they form a dynamic ensemble that explores the complexities of family dynamics with depth and nuance.

As secrets are revealed and old wounds are reopened, the dialogue crackles with tension and emotion, drawing the audience deeper into the Tyrone family’s tangled web of relationships. Against a backdrop of swirling fog and tolling bells, the play unfolds as a haunting meditation on the nature of memory, regret, and the search for redemption.

Herrin’s direction imbues the production with a sense of intimacy, while Lizzie Clachan’s set design evokes the claustrophobic atmosphere of the Tyrone family home. Jack Knowles’ lighting design adds depth and texture to the production, illuminating the characters’ inner turmoil with striking visual imagery.

At its heart, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is a timeless exploration of the human condition, rendered with poignancy and depth by Cox and his fellow cast members. As the curtain falls on this great production, audiences are left with a profound sense of the enduring power of family, memory, and the quest for meaning in an uncertain world. 

Just keep in mind, this day’s journey into night, is a really long one.

Wyndham’s theatre, until June 8.