Exploring the greatest new and classic plays


Brian Cox and Patricia Clarkson
Wyndham’s Theatre, London
April 2024
Photo by Johan Persson

080 – Long Day’s Journey into Night, by Eugene O’Neill

May 10, 2024 | Podcast Episodes | 0 comments

Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical magnum opus Long Day’s Journey into Night  presents a single day and night in the lives of the troubled Tyrone family, during which they conduct a torturous and tragic self-examination. It is a relentlessly bitter and mournful round robin of recriminations and self-dramatization, written as an act of personal confrontation with O’Neill’s own family demons. As the title suggests, the play is long and taxing. It is raw and despairing, but also lyrical, and ultimately heartbreakingly moving.

Eugene O’Neill finished writing Long Day’s Journey into Night in April 1941, but because of the personal revelations it contained he gave explicit instructions that the play was not to be published until 25 years after his death, and more extraordinarily, that it should never be performed on stage. However, within three years of his death his widow allowed both the publication of the play, and the first productions at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, and then on Broadway, where it received ecstatic reviews and won the fourth Pulitzer prize of O’Neill’s career.

It has been staged many times since, filmed on a number of occasions, and become a staple of educational curricula, particularly in North America. As we record this episode, a powerful new production is playing in the West End of London, with Brian Cox, most recently renowned as the ruthless patriarch Logan Roy in the TV series Succession, and Patricia Clarkson leading the cast.

I am very excited and privileged to be able to talk to the London production’s director, Jeremy Herrin, about this monumental play.

Jeremy Herrin

Jeremy Herrin has been a director of Live Theatre Newcastle, The Royal Court, and Headlong theatre companies. Highlights of his distinguished career include directing Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies for the RSC, with transfers to London and New York; as well as James Graham’s plays This House, Labour of Love and Best of Enemies in London.

Jeremy also directed the original production of Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places & Things at the National Theatre, in the West End and New York, and he is directing a revival of the play at the Trafalgar theatre in London, opening in May 2024.


Recommended Play

Jeremy recommended People, Places & Things by Duncan Macmillan.

Photo © Marc Brenner
We have footnotes for this episode …

The Footnotes to our episode on Eugene O’Neill’s magnum opus Long Day’s Journey into Night contain observations on the publication and first production of the play, James Tyrone the actor, Mary’s preoccupation with the past, and O’Neill’s dramatic form.

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