Posts Tagged ‘Bound East for Cardiff’

These three short early Eugene O’Neil plays, when played together as they are here, provide an evocative picture of seafaring life in the early 20th century. The Old Vic tunnels provide the perfect atmosphere, aided by harbour ‘installations’ (barrels and nets!) and men shovelling coal in a side tunnel as you enter. They’re far from O’Neill’s best work, but for anyone interested in this titan of modern drama, they’re a must-see.

The first two plays are set at sea (so seamlessly in this production, I thought it was one play!). In the first, Bound East for Cardiff, the ship enters stormy waters resulting in the death of one of the crew. In the second, In the Zone, set at a time of war, a seaman who is ‘different’ is suspected of being a spy and as his true story is revealed he is broken. In the third play, The Long Voyage Home, we’re in a port bar where a naïve Swedish seaman is drugged and fleeced by the bar owner in collusion with a prostitute and assorted lowlife.

They are slight stories but they do add up to something much more than the parts. They’re well staged by Kenneth Hoyt (the opening of the first is particularly thrilling) and well performed. You can almost smell the sea & the sweat and the characterisations are surprisingly deep given their short length. I was particularly impressed by the performances in the third play, with Amanda Boxer as a prostitute, Raymond M Sage as the Swedish seaman and Eddie Webber as Joe.

The best of the three shows I’ve seen in the Old Vic Tunnels and well worth catching.

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