Thursday, March 22, 2012

"A Moon..." Waxes Poetic

Eugene O"Neill mixes laughter with despair, anger with love, compassion with bravado. He was well-established as one of Amnerica's foremost playwrights long before "A Moon For The Misbegotten" flopped on Broadway in 1957.
In fact,"A Moon For The Misbegotten," in a Pearl Theatre Company presentation at City Center Stage II through April 15th, was an underappreciated masterpiece until its 1973 revival.

As The Pearl's Artistic Director, JR Sullivan puts it, "A Moon For The Misbegotten" is "the celebrated Eugene O'Neill's last great play."

The cast of The Pearl's production, particularly Kim Martin-Cotten as Josie Hogan, Dan Daily as Phil Hogan, and Andrew May as James Tyrone, under JR Sullivan's direction brings out all the poetry in O'Neill's beautiful script. It is as fine a revival as any of recent years.

Kim Martin-Cotton as Josie Hogan and Andrew May as James Tyrone. Photo © Jacob J. Goldberg.

Josie is raucous and boisterous, playing the rough and tumble housekeeper for her gruff father Phil. "A Moon For The Misbegotten" is set in 1923 on a ramshackle farmstead in Connecticut. It brings together two troubled souls, Josie and James Tyrone. In their moonlight encounter, they no longer pretend to be something they are not. Her tenderness redeems him and allows him a peace he has not felt for a long time.

Dan Daily, a Pearl Company stalwart, gives a superb performance as Phil, while Kim Martin-Cotten takes her place as one of the best of Josie's interpreters. Andrew May, reminiscent in affect and tone of Tom Hanks, has a fine sense of the torment James experiences. As the butt of Josie and Phil's joshing, T. Stedman Harder (Kern McFadden) is a a bit cartoonish. Rounding out the cast, the always fine Sean McNall plays a small but piquant part as Josie's brother Mike.

Kim Martin-Cotton as Josie Hogan and Dan Daily as Phil Hogan. Photo © Jacob J. Goldberg.

"A Moon For The Misbegotten" looks deep into the psychology of loss and longing; the three hours and fifteen minutes pass as a flash as JR Sullivan lets his cast explore the darkness and light in the play.

For a schedule of performances, please visit The Pearl Theatre.

"A Moon For The Misbegotten" is the final play of the season, and the last at the City Center venue. For their 29th season, The Pearl has found a permanent home across town on far west 42nd Street. JR Sullivan talks about the move.

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