By Eugene O’Neill Directed by Kevin Theis
The Irish American Heritage Center
4626 North Knox Avenue
March 23 – April 29, 2012
The companion piece to Long Day’s Journey into Night and O’Neill’s final play, A Moon for the Misbegotten is a tale of humor, vulnerability and passion, as two lonely souls find a window of happiness in the moonlight, and approach the coming dawn with hope and apprehension. Directed by ensemble member Kevin Theis, the cast included ensemble member and Jeff Award-winning actor Brad Armacost, ensemble member Carolyn Klein, and renowned Chicago actor Steve Pickering, veteran of Broadway and over 30 productions at the Goodman Theatre.
Photos by Jackie Jasperson
Phil Hogan Brad Armacost*
Josie Hogan Carolyn Klein
Mike Hogan Andrew Nowack
James Tyrone, Jr. Steve Pickering*
T. Stedman Harder Stuart Ritter
Director Kevin Theis*
Stage Manager Erin Diener*
Co-Scenic & Props Designers Ira Amyx
Lighting Designer Julian Pike
Sound Designer Victoria DeIorio
Costume Designer Beth Laske-Miller
Assistant Director Mary Rose O’Connor
Dramaturg Jeri Frederickson
Producer Michael Grant*
*Member of Actor’s Equity Association
From the Chicago Reader
March 27, 2012
Eugene O’Neill’s rich, complex 1947 play begins as a comedy, full of witty lines and farcical high jinks, but ends as something much more somber and sublime. Director Kevin Theis and his Seanachai Theatre Company cast negotiate the difficult twists and subtle changes of tone with such finesse and grace that you’d think O’Neill had written this tale of a trio of misfits with them in mind. Steve Pickering and Brad Armacost turn in highly nuanced performances as an amused, alcoholic landlord and his sneaky, shanty-Irish tenant. But it’s Carolyn Klein who really lights up the stage with her spirited, many-layered performance as the tenant’s daughter, Josie, who in her hardheaded way keeps both men in line.
From Time Out Chicago
March 29, 2012
Years after the dramatic action of Long Day’s Journey into Night, the character of Jim Tyrone reappears in A Moon for the Misbegotten. The sequel explores his ongoing pseudo-romance with Josie, a plucky Irish girl living on his farm in Connecticut. Together, Night and Misbegotten paint a rather bleak picture of life’s possibilities: Whether you’re a dirt-poor farmhand like Josie or an assimilated, successful actor like Jim, you’re likely to spend most of your days in wistful misery. And drunk.
Seanachaí’s production is polished and affecting. Carolyn Klein gives a textured performance as Josie, occupying the stage for two and a half compelling hours. Steve Pickering — who played Jamie in the Goodman’s 2002 production of Night — creates a gruff, stolid Jim. His bluntness in the role beautifully emphasizes the difference between Josie’s lilting Irish speech and Jim’s clipped American tongue. At moments, though, Pickering seems a bit too sober, as if ill at ease with O’Neill’s grandiose emotions.
Late in Misbegotten, the (somewhat aimless) drama homes in on the question of whether Jamie and Josie will, for the first time, consummate their relationship. O’Neill clearly intends this as a dramatic climax. But the sexual mores dictating their discussions are so dated that our relationship to the play briefly becomes analytical: We must decipher the sexual politics guiding the characters before we can discern their emotional impact. Still, the moment passes. O’Neill widens his focus to a broader portrait of melancholy, and the play has us in its emotional grasp again.
From Windy City Times
April 4, 2012
There’s the balcony courtship in Romeo and Juliet, and Cyrano de Bergerac, but Western theater’s most difficult love scene is the one taking up nearly the entire second half of this final chapter in Eugene O’Neill’s saga of the doomed Tyrone family. Not only are its lovers deliberately deceiving one another from the beginning (and themselves, too, albeit less deliberately) — their risk is not concerned simply with matters of the heart, you see, but with those of money, property and filial loyalty. Add in the various stages of intoxication associated with seasoned alcoholics versus novice tipplers, and that’s a heavy load of subtext for two solitary actors to convey at full intensity for an hour or more.
O’Neill being U.S. theater’s foremost playwright, all worthy theater companies must, sooner or later, grapple with the challenges of his richly-textured dramas. Less ambitious troupes tend toward his communal narratives (e.g. Long Day’s Journey Into Night, or The Hairy Ape), rather than rely on the stamina of a single powerhouse duo. The Seanachaí ensemble has never flinched in its exploration of the Irish experience, however, and here are three reasons for its emerging victorious once again:
1) The production is performed in a small room, reducing the physical distance between actor and actor, as well as actor and audience, to an intimacy maximizing the emotional impact. The restricted movement mandated by the likewise small stage also abbreviates the running time to a comfortable two and a half hours with one intermission.
2) Director Kevin Theis rejects conventional typecasting, selecting the sturdy Steve Pickering for the role of the dissipated Jamie Tyrone, and the statuesque Carolyn Klein to be the defiant Josie Hogan. Together, they navigate O’Neill’s flowery prose and stilted period-slang (“You’re the goods, kid!”) to forge a cliche-free portrait of lost souls whose proud veneer of courage renders their vulnerability the more moving for its silence.
3) The tightly integrated technical team has created, in microcosm, a museum-grade example of early 20th-century scenic naturalism, ranging from a nowadays rarely-seen painted drop to Julian Pike’s achingly subtle Connecticut sunrise. (Watch Klein sharpen an ax with a hand-held whetstone for a lesson in rural life before the invention of electrical tools.)