If you’ve been in a dive bar in New York, or anywhere else, just those simple words are enough to conjure the bleak decor, the smell of stale drink and something more. Eugene O’Neill’s 1939 play, The Iceman Cometh, takes place in a dive bar filled with broken people, and their broken dreams, who are the unseen props that fill the stage. The play makes only rare appearances on stage, this is in-part because of its extensive length. The four acts stretch across more than four hours. But the Brooklyn Academy of Music is currently hosting a production from Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.
The play stars Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy. Dennehy is an old hand at playing O’Neill characters, but Lane, one of New York’s great comic actors, might be a surprising casting choice. New York Times theater critc Charles Isherwood has visited this bleak O’Neill world and he shares his view of the production and also suggests why spending time in O’Neill’s world is worthwhile.
The Iceman Cometh is at BAM's Harvey Theater through March 15.