For St. Patrick’s Day 2014, the Rubicon Theatre and Artistic Director James O’Neil, Producing Artistic Director, and director Jenny Sullivan, all of Irish descent, are presenting Eugene O’Neil’s last play, A Moon for the Misbegotten in a wonderful and deeply satisfying production. I first saw this play back in New York with Jason Robards and Coleen Dewhurst in a famous production directed by Jose Quintero. This was one of five productions of the play that have played on Broadway but Quintero’s is the most celebrated. It certainly made an impression on me as a young actor for the brilliance of the writing and depth of the acting.
So going to see the play at the Rubicon I was a bit apprehensive, afraid my memory of the other production might get in the way of my enjoyment. Well my qualms were swiftly extinguished when a brilliant cast headed by the talented Joseph Fuqua, Rebekah Tripp in a bravura performance, and one of my favorite actors Granville Van Dusen.
The play is considered a sequel of sorts to A Long Days Journey into Night, the main character being James Tyrone Jr., the playwrights alcoholic brother who was tormented by the fact his mother was a drug addict and his father, an ego-driven actor famous for playing only one role. O’Neil loved his brother James and featured him in several of his plays. In a Moon for the Misbegotten James finds a kind of salvation in the form of a tough, boisterous and “loose) Irish immigrant girl, Josie”. In a night of booze and talk, each character finds redemption under the moon after confessing their “sins”. Van Dusen plays Josie’s drunkard father who has been abandoned by all his sons but has found in Josie a soul mate who knows how to get round him.
Director Sullivan, who has directed Fuqua in 20 productions, does a masterful job of orchestrating what begins as a raucous and wild play into an epiphany of love and forgiveness. Both Josie and James, incapable of forming a true union find redemption in each other. James finds an earth mother and Josie finds a man who she can safely give her love and support to. Go see this masterpiece.