(Laura Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in The New York Times, 10/22; via Pam Green.)
Eugene O’Neill’s soapy saga “Strange Interlude” was nearly six hours long when it opened on Broadway in 1928, and the audience got only one intermission, long enough for an unhurried dinner. Transport Group’s uncut revival, at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn, has a similar running time, but the pace is less punishing: two intermissions and a 30-minute dinner break. After every act or two, the audience gets up and moves to a different set.
Having those moments to pause and peregrinate keeps us nimble for the duration — and I can only imagine how salutary they are for the cast. While there were nine actors in that original production, at Irondale there is just one: the extraordinary David Greenspan, whose performance is such a feat of daring that merely getting through it would have been an accomplishment.
Yet he is masterful. Watching him is like witnessing a recitation, a prayer, a madness, a modern ballet.
Directed by Jack Cummings III, this production is storytelling at its purest. At once faithful and irreverent, it’s an illuminating interpretation that is alert to the script’s inadvertent comedy and delighted to mine it.
O’Neill won his third Pulitzer Prize with “Strange Interlude,” the kind of play that makes you want to go back in time and talk some sense into the people handing out the award. Florid, emotionally overwrought and saddled with a ridiculous plot, it’s proof that not every work by a great artist is great art.