A Radiant Darkness in Brooklyn

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Salvatore Inzerillo (standing), Lee Wilkof, Patrick Andrews and Brian Dennehy in 'The Iceman Cometh.' Salvatore Inzerillo (standing), Lee Wilkof, Patrick Andrews and Brian Dennehy in 'The Iceman Cometh.' (Richard Termine)

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.

Comments [2]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

When I was a member of the Metropolitan Opera National Company one of our stage directors who directed L a Cenerentola was the original stage director for the world premiere production done in a bar at Sheridan Square,
Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York. The actor who became famous in later years for his Cyrano, Jose Ferrer, was the principal character. Despair and disillusionment with life is so part of the fabric of so many peoples' lives that THE ICEMAN COMETH may be therapeutic as Eugene O'Neill intended.

Feb. 18 2015 12:20 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

To the moderator's question as to why to see this play, I would respond by saying that through the marvel of O'Neill's dramaturgy, we, the audience, are reinforced in our fears and doubts about our existence and at once enlightened by seeing them acted out and portrayed by the actors in "The Iceman Commeth". Anyone within visiting distance of the playhouse should see it. Those who remember the 1973 John Frankenheimer film with Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Frederick March et al. --- and those (including myself) who have never seen it on stage or read it --- I feel certain will be equally moved and transfixed by the performances of Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy, based upon their credentials alone.

Feb. 18 2015 09:29 AM

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