alexandra alger

ABC

The Iceman Cometh

I can’t last through a two-hour action flick without falling asleep at least once, but guess what—last night I was alert and engaged for the entirety of a FOUR-HOUR-LONG  play. Here I thought the problem was old age, but no! The relief of it—I just needed BETTER writing and acting! In this case, I’m got superior writing and acting in the form of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, now playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

it’s not an easy play to watch. A dozen or so drunks spend their days and nights at a bar in the Bowery (the year is 1912), using booze to disguise the hopelessness of their lives. Then their friend Hickey shows up and tries to help them get rid of their illusions—which only leads to more bitterness and despair. An incredible cast, led by Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy. It’s not a flawless play—Hickey repeats himself so much it was distracting—but that seems like a quibble in light of its achievements. Another example of how powerful and enduring the best writing is.

Is it self-defeating to say I can’t hope to be as great a writer as O’Neill? I figure I’m not being self-defeating so much as realistic. The man won four Pulitzers and a Nobel, for crying out loud!  I have to point out that what I’m writing isn’t even eligible for such honors; I dream about a Caldecott.

Which reminds me: It’s time to get back to writing. Re-fueled, unexpectedly, by a spectacle of sheer hopelessness.

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