Years after the dramatic action of Long Day’s Journey into Night, the character of Jim Tyrone reappears in A Moon for the Misbegotten. The sequel explores his ongoing pseudo-romance with Josie, a plucky Irish girl living on his farm in Connecticut. Together, Night and Misbegotten paint a rather bleak picture of life’s possibilities: Whether you’re a dirt-poor farmhand like Josie or an assimilated, successful actor like Jim, you’re likely to spend most of your days in wistful misery. And drunk.
Seanachaí’s production is polished and affecting. Carolyn Klein gives a textured performance as Josie, occupying the stage for two and a half compelling hours. Steve Pickering—who played Jamie in the Goodman’s 2002 production of Night—creates a gruff, stolid Jim. His bluntness in the role beautifully emphasizes the difference between Josie’s lilting Irish speech and Jim’s clipped American tongue. At moments, though, Pickering seems a bit too sober, as if ill at ease with O’Neill’s grandiose emotions.
Late in Misbegotten, the (somewhat aimless) drama homes in on the question of whether Jamie and Josie will, for the first time, consummate their relationship. O’Neill clearly intends this as a dramatic climax. But the sexual mores dictating their discussions are so dated that our relationship to the play briefly becomes analytical: We must decipher the sexual politics guiding the characters before we can discern their emotional impact. Still, the moment passes. O’Neill widens his focus to a broader portrait of melancholy, and the play has us in its emotional grasp again.