Last week, I went to see Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Apollo theatre, a pitch perfect production of a fascinating play. I will post a review soon but Long Day’s Journey Into Night also interests me for its production history: the play features demanding roles for five actors of two different generations, and while established actors are cast in the older roles, the younger roles are taken by talented, often uknown actors, who often go on to become big stars.
In the 2012 West End production, Edmund, the younger son of the family, is played by Kyle Soller, who recently won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer for his performances in three 2011 productions: Glass Menagerie and The Government Inspector at the Young Vic and the Faith Machine at the Royal Court.
In the last 25 years, Edmund has been played by, among others, David Tennant in a 1994 production for Dundee Rep, Andrew Scott in a 1998 production for Gate theatre in Dublin and Stephen Dillane in a 1991 National Theatre production.
“As Edmund, Andrew Scott is the essence of raw sensitivity, one who wears his skin inside out”. The Irish Times, 1 April 1998. Andrew Scott was nominated for the Irish Times / ESB award for best supporting actor for this role.
“Graham McTavish and David Tennant as the sons are equally impressive, all in lengthy and emotionally demanding roles.” The Herald, 20 Appril 1994.
According to the Theatre Record, there have been two regional productions and four London productions of Long Day’s Journey into Night between 1981 and 2005. Critical quotes for these productions are hard to find: With all the information available on the internet, you would think it would be easy but it always surprises me how little there is around theatre and theatre history: before 2000 it’s very difficult to find anything (photos, reviews, cast lists) for any but the starriest productions. On the other hand, that makes the research far more exciting. Often, when actors become huge stars, some fans put a lot of effort into researching past roles and the results are fascinating: a website for David Tennant’s stage work has information about early 1990s stage productions not available anywhere else online.