Long Day's Journey Into Night

Long Day’s Journey Into Night; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$17. Actor’s Workshop of Sacramento at Three Penny Theatre in the R25 Arts Complex, 1721 25th Street; (916) 583-4880; www.actinsac.com. Through June 7.
Rated 4.0

Veteran pro Ed Claudio and four members of his Actor's Workshop of Sacramento assay Eugene O'Neill's monumental (and semi-autobiographical) family drama. They do a pretty respectable job getting this classic on its feet—despite the seemingly polite life these folks are living at their summer home in 1912, you can feel the Tyrone clan disintegrating.

It’s all here: elder son Jamie (Jeff Machado) sliding into alcoholism before he’s 40; younger son Edmund (Zach Coles) trying to keep his spirits up as the doctors tell him he has tuberculosis and needs to go to a sanitarium; their mother Mary (Scarlet O’Connor) relapsing into morphine addiction (and pretending that she isn’t doing so, after maintaining that she really was going to quit the drug this time); and cantankerous patriarch James Tyrone (Ed Claudio) facing accusations from his sons that Mary’s morphine problem stems from sending her to cheap doctors rather than quality physicians. Rounding out the cast is Katie Walton as the maid Cathleen, trying to do her job and not get too involved.

They’re all engaging in self-deception and proud denial. And as a foghorn moans in the background, and the men take turns pouring each other drinks and mom retreats upstairs, where they all know she’ll shoot up with another dose from some hidden stash, the playwright unfolds some of the greatest scenes in American theater. If you’ve never seen this play staged (and there aren’t a lot of opportunities to do so locally), you should.

The script has been trimmed a bit (the show still runs three hours). The production values are strictly “no frills,” the theater itself is small and plain, but the acting ranges from “worthy yeoman” to “high caliber.” Kudos to Claudio for being the only guy in town to stage this American landmark in recent years.