The Broadway play by Eugene O'Neill opened at the Helen Hayes Theater in New York on November 7, 1956, ran for 390 performances and won the 1957 Tony Award for the Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1957. See more »
Ruby Dee is great--really getting the desperation of her character. I've always found Earle Hyman a little stiff in the role, but he is strong early on. Both of the sons are adequate. This African-American version is a risky attempt, probably a little illogical overall, but it does show that the play is adaptable to any good cast. I still think that the 1962 version is the best overall, but this one is still worth watching if you can find it. I took me almost a year to track down a DVD of it. I did, eventually, and was happy to have it. I have my American lit students watch all four acts as they exist in four different film versions: Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey, this one, one with Olivier and Constance Cummings, and the original film version with Richardson, Stockwell, Robards, and Hepburn. I still believe that the last one, with incredible performances by Robards and Hepburn in the last act, would be hard to top. I saw this at the Alley Theatre a few years ago--a gruelling performance that lasted almost four hours--with the great Ellen Burstyn playing Mrs. Tyrone. I always thought that the ideal casting for her role would have been Geraldine Chaplin--playing her own great-grandmother. But it never came to pass.
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