Suchet’s long journey

Laurie Metcalf and David Suchet play the husband and wife in O'Neill's classic play.
Laurie Metcalf and David Suchet play the husband and wife in O'Neill's classic play.

POIROT comes to Glasgow! Now, there’s an intro.

Of course, I refer not to the fictional character of Agatha Christie novels but, rather, the actor who plays him, David Suchet.

And what a welcome he deserves as he brings with him a production of what many people reckon is the finest play of the 20th century — Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night.

O’Neill’s semi-autobiographical play traces the life of a family’s self-inflicted agony during a period from morning to night in one day.

The action centres around the Irish-American Tyrone family consisting of a patriarch, his two sons and wife.

All the men in the family are alcoholics and the wife/mother is addicted to morphine.

The father, James senior (Suchet), is an actor who has spent so much time playing the one character in a play that he has become typecast and can find no other work.

He argues with his sons and, although he has money invested in property, he is fairly cash poor.

The eldest son, James “Jamie” junior, is 33 and an actor like his father.

Although popular with women and men, Jamie has a reputation for being irresponsible, a womaniser and an alcoholic.

The younger son, Edmund, is 23 and the more intellectual and poetic of the family.

He is a socialist and suffers from ill health and is later diagnosed with tuberculosis.

James senior’s wife, Mary, lapses between self-delusion and the haze of morphine.

Although having been cleaned up of her addiction, her sons wonder if she has lapsed and are deeply concerned — although Edmund later berates his mother for her drug use saying he has difficulty having a “dope fiend for a mother”.

O’Neill, perhaps sensing that it ran so parallel to his own life, had the play sealed in a vault at publishers Random House with specific instructions that it was not to be published until 25 years after his death.

His third wife, however, by-passed this agreement by having the rights to the play transferred to Yale university and it was published in 1956 — a mere three years after the author’s death.

n Long Day’s Journey into Night is on at the Theatre Royal from Monday, March 26 until Saturday, March 31 at 7pm.

Tickets cost £15 and £30 plus a booking fee.