(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/26.)
As perhaps suits a tale of the sea, Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie” is encrusted with layer upon layer of barnacles. The last, daring word in modern theater and modern subject matter when it opened on Broadway in 1921, this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of a prostitute’s redemption now seems all but buried in quaintness, myth and exotica.
Many people remember it — if at all — as the play that became the movie in which Greta Garbo
first talked (opening with “Geef me a viskey”), or perhaps the source of those much-parodied lines, in a Swedish accent to boot, about “dat ole devil sea.” The last Broadway revival, which won a Tony 20 years ago, is principally recalled by many as the occasion when its glamorous stars, Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson, fell in love.