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Friday, January 30, 2015

In Context: The Iceman Cometh



The Goodman Theatre's production of The Iceman Cometh runs at the BAM Harvey Theater February 5—March 15. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Program Notes


Read


Article
"I knew 'em all": Eugene O'Neill and the Iceman (BAM blog)
How and why O'Neill came to pen The Iceman Cometh.

Comic
Eugene O'Neill: Adrift in Buenos Aires (BAM blog)
An illustrated account of Eugene O'Neill's early years.

Glossary
"The Family Circle of Inmates" (BAM blog)
Get to know Harry Hope, Larry Slade, Theodore “Hickey” Hickman, and the other Iceman Cometh saloon dwellers.

Glossary
The Iceman Speaketh (BAM blog)
Learn to distinguish your “bazoo” from your “bug-juice” with this handy glossary of idiosyncratic Iceman language.

Article
There's Something Funny In This Saloon (The New York Times)
After doing The Addams Family on Broadway, Nathan Lane needed a change. So he wrote an email.

Article
The Iceman Cometh Again (Chicago Tribune)
Brian Dennehy and director Robert Falls first worked on the Goodman Theatre’s The Iceman Cometh 25 years ago.

Review
Brooks Atkinson’s 1946 Review of The Iceman Cometh
Eugene O'Neill has "plunged again into the black quagmire of men's illusions and composed a rigadoon of death as strange and elemental as his first works."

Bio
Eugene O’Neill’s Biography (EOneill.com)
Before entering the theater, the Iceman Cometh playwright wasn’t unlike some of the play’s disillusioned characters.

Speech
Eugene O’Neill’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech (NobelPrize.org)
O'Neill had already won the Nobel Prize by the time he wrote The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and other classic plays. 


Look & Listen

Video
The Iceman Cometh Talk at BAM (BAM.org)
Watch highlights from our March 2 talk with Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy.

Video
Excerpt from The Iceman Cometh (The New York Times)
Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy in action.

Video
Eugene O’Neill: His Life, Work, and Legacy (National Theatre)
It was at a tuberculosis sanitarium that O’Neill decided to dedicate his life to the theater. 


Now your turn...

So how did you enjoy the show? Likes? Dislikes? Surprises? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below.

83 comments:

  1. Having seen Jason Robards as Hickey twice in the benchmark 1956 production of Iceman and having seen criticisms of Nathan Lane's performance in Chicago in 2012 I was prepared for a letdown, but I was pleasantly surprised. Robert Falls has delivered a masterpiece, the best play I have seen in 60 years. Nathan Lane did what seemed impossible; he surpassed the great Jason Robards in the opening at BAM last night in what certainly was the performance of a lifetime. In 2012 some critics said that Mr. Lane had not integrated Hickey within himself and therefore his performance, especially in the crucial monologue in Act IV, was superficial. But that was not the case at BAM last night -- Nathan Lane was Hickey. He gave a performance that I have never seen equaled in my lifetime, and I've been attending plays in New York since the 1950s. Bravo!

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    1. These were the most uncomfortable seats I have ever sat in. I could not enjoy this 4:45 performance while sitting on a chair without any cushioning. Never again.

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    2. I estimate that we've been to upwards of one hundred broadway shows over the past 35 years but never have I read so many comments about the poor quality of the seating (and unfortunately that wasn't until several days before the show). Ultimately, with the prospect of an 80 mile car ride as the encore to nearly 5 hours in uncomfortable seats, we gave the tickets away to friends who lived near by (telling them to bring seat cushions). I hope they had a great time and I hope that BAM springs for some new seats to prevent this kind of disappointing nonsense.

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    3. The performance was disappointing. Everything seemed calculated to the nth degree, leaving little room for spontaneity. I doubt whether it changes t all from one performance to another. Here is where I shout, here s where I murmur, here is where i slam down the chair, etc.,etc. It simply did not come to life for us, at least most of the time

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    4. This was a magnificent, unforgettable evening of theater. It's the best thing I've seen Nathan Lane do, and I've seen him in an incredible variety of roles. It would have been a perfect night of theater had two people across the aisle not spent an inordinate amount of time crackling their food wrappers and bags. Please don't sell food in cellophane bags. Please discourage people from bringing food into the theater. Please. And please continue to bring such fabulous productions to this wonderful theater.

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    5. I saw the production last night, March 6, and was front row last seat right in front of Dennehy. Well, I'm now sure that the twin crowns for greatest playwright (American) go to Williams and Miller. I kept comparing Ouimette to the (ostensibly) leads and found his Harry Hope really the performance to be cherished. Something tells me that Lane and Dennehy both know that theirs is not the best acting in the production. Lane was forcing his voice unattractively to levels of volume for which he lacked the innate power. His speech seemed unlived and manufactured to some degree. The second Ouimette opens his mouth in Act 1, you hear the contrast with Dennehy--bam, a living character. Trust me, the bouquets here should go to Stephen Ouimette and a some others of the supporting cast, and Lane surely knows it.....

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    6. It really was an amazing evening of theater and one I will long remember.

      Not to diminish the thespian accolades but I must comment on the issue of food. Although sustenance was required during the 4.5 hours, it should not have been permitted in the theater and more seats/tables should have been arranged for the lobby. People are not considerate of others in this regard--eating smelly food, leaving trash on the floor despite the flight-attendant-like ushers trolling the aisles with garbage bags, etc.

      That aside, it was a real treat to be a member of the audience! .

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  2. Exactly right. Nathan Lane gaveone of the most memorable performances I have ever seen, and I too have been a theatergoer since the 50's.

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  3. I thoroughly enjoyed he production and "Bravo" to the entire cast and particularly Nathan Lane!

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  4. The play was powerful, and such good acting from all. But I wish I had known about the mountain of steps we needed to ascend to reach the balcony, and then the near 45 degree descent to our seats. Never again, for this 71 year old and her 80 year old husband. I don't remember seeing any warning about this on the BAM web site. Next time, I'll spend more and sit downstairs.

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    1. I totally agree with you and lets also mention the horribly uncomfortable seats in the balcony.

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    2. Susan, I am in my thirties, am very fit, and I slid down three steps trying to get down to my seat on the balcony. They are dangerous. I don't recall any warnings on the website, either. The large corner guards are what I slid on - that along with the steep angle of the stairs. Some warning signs and perhaps rubber or vinyl stairs with proper tread rather than carpet, BAM, please, unless you want to be hit with a lawsuit when someone really does get injured.

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  5. I was at yesterday's matinee and the hours flew by in great part due to it's magnificent production design which added considerably to the mesmerizing experience.

    Nathan Lane, as expected was awesome. His breakdown near the end was shattering.

    Brian Dennehy was a revelation. The best thing I have seen him do in NYC. When not speaking, he sat looking like a painting. His presence was profound.

    Stephen Ouimette was the best and most memorable Harry Hope I have seen. John Douglas Thompson was commanding as Joe Mott. EVERYONE in it was perfection.

    Robert Fall's vision was so immersive and visually accomplished. The opening sequence in virtual darkness was amazing. To take such a familiar work and render it so imaginatively, yet faithfully is a great accomplishment.

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  6. Will someone who has seen the show please say when and approximately how long each intermission is? Thank you.

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    1. Hi there, each intermission is 20 minutes long.

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    2. all 3 intermissions are 15 minutes.

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    3. I saw this last evening. All three intermissions are 15 min. First act is 1 1/2 hrs, second and third are 45 minutes and fourth is an hour.

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  7. It was wonderful. One moment is staying with me: how the group makes a circle at the end and
    seems to form a non-hierarchical family unit of like-minded souls, although Larry stays to one side.

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  8. I did not think that I would last through the entire production but WOW what a show. I did not want it to end. the cast is outstanding and Nathan Lane is extraordinary.

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  9. I was at the matinee Feb. 8 and thought the ensemble was excellent. They have been performing this play together for a while but it seemed fresh and energetic. From the gallery (balcony I guess) where I sat Nathan Lane looked a bit like Jackie Gleason. He was superb as was the rest of the cast.
    There are a lot of steps to reach the balcony but once there there are hand rails to help with the descent to the seats.

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  10. The production is true to the play. The problem is that the play is outdated. There are timeless plays, like The Trojan Women or Hamlet or Cherry Orchard. Iceman Cometh is not one of them, it is a period piece. It is a great script with demanding roles, performed by excellent actors. Not just two stars but the whole ensemble does terrific job as well as the scenery designer. Yet, it is not interesting as a whole, and it is not possible to relate. Craftsmanship is admirable, but as a whole piece it doesn't touch a nerve (or as Rocky would have said a noive.)

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    1. apparently you go to the wrong "bars"

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  11. Superb! I was gripped for the full 5 hours. All performances were fine, but, for me, the night belonged to Nathan Lane.

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  12. Wow. Nearly five hours long. I guess some things just take the time they take. You can’t rush them. I am glad I saw this play. I have given it a lot of thought ever since. I would be lying if I told you it wasn’t a bit of a challenge to sit through it. The three intermissions helped (as did all my years of practice sitting through operas and baseball games.) Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy were entirely believable in their roles. Indeed, all the actors were excellent. In all honesty, I am glad there are still a few things in life that don’t move at the speed of a sound bite. That said, I am sure there is a Twitter version of this play. But experiencing it in its entirety is way more rewarding — and much more uncomfortably (and poignantly) real.

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  13. Big disappointment. While Lane, Dennehy and Ouimette were outstanding, the writing did not hold up and this play remain in the past. Hackneyed writing, stereotypical characters, atrocious NY and British accents and endless repetition of the same lines and phrases. Waste of talent.

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    1. The writing did not hold up? Well, I guess there is lifetime movies for some people.

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  14. As an actor myself, I’m afraid I’m not a Nathan Lane fan. I thought he was OK until the Act IV breakdown, which seemed to me to be unspecific and over the top.
    I am a fan of Brian Dennehy, the first actor who ever made me care about Willy Loman, and I loved what he did all through the play, but especially in Act IV, waiting for Parritt’s death (it was clear from the beginning of the act that the window up right was there for a reason). I couldn’t take my eyes off Mr. Dennehy, despite all the activity taking place stage left.
    The whole cast was excellent (with the exception mentioned above). Another standout to me was John Douglas Thompson. His walking-out scene in Act III floored me. In fact, I was surprised he didn’t get exit applause, as inappropriate as that would have been.
    Thank you for making this production available to us. I cannot agree with the commenters who say it’s outdated and who disparage the writing.

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    1. Thought you might like to know that at March 4th's evening performance John Douglas Thompson did get exit applause. What an amazing performance.

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  15. I was excited to see this play but was SHOCKED when I received a e-mail that the play was 4 HOURS & 45 minutes. What???I was taking my 86 year old mother and knew that it was too long for her to view. I called to cancel the tickets because NOTHING mentioned the length of the play. I was told that I could donate the amount of the tickets to BAM, I don't want to say what I thought of that idea here. I was deeply disappointed in how this was handled but I know I will not be heading to BAM anytime soon.

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    1. Too funny! Maybe a little research next time.

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  16. I was very much looking forward to the performance, having not seen the show in a very long time, but must say I was terribly disappointed. The majority of the actors, almost comically mannered dialectic delivery of there lines was unbearable, as was rawness of the interactive pacing, and we simply had to leave after the second act. Also, physically speaking, where in the world did those incredibly uncomfortable, un-padded metal stools come from up in the balcony, that you are selling a theater seats, and please, don't get me started on the major hike, up and down from them...I assure you, never again.

    Alan

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    1. I have to agree with everything you've written, Alan. I, too, was disappointed. After having see Kevin Spacey's brilliant performance back in the late '90s, this production paled in comparison. The comical deliveries had the audience laughing at some of the most tragic elements of this drama. Poorly directed. Few, if any, memorable speeches. Seats were abominable. Rick

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  17. We left early- at the end of the first act, The seats were just so damn uncomfortable and I was told by an usher that I couldn't pay to upgrade to more expensive comfortable seats that were vacant. At the first intermission we heard multiple conversations around us about how awful the seats were. I'm unlikely to return to this theater again as I like to keep the blood flowing in my lower torso.

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  18. If you have a hankering to take a night flight in a 1946 DC3 for 5 hours for the re-enactment of a American Classic for the romance of yesteryear , think again. This play suffered from a very dated script that many would say going to it with a contemporary knife, in a sense a sin, or worse. No sad to say, not just too just long but failed to stay aloft. We failed to me taken anywhere at all. Sorry NYT to say it is a master work, it is not. The players are clunky and bit part. Lane seemed to do all the rowing to get this tub over the line, Brian Den looked and felt tired and could do with a drink.

    No this feels to all sensibility to be a copy of a copy. The set and staging as uninspiring as the script. Sorry to those who love a classic. This may well be a case of modernise or die. This died. For BAM I am surprised. I do note good ticket sales so good luck to them.

    This old tale of the woes of human degraded lives and the call to repentance, even if it too late, fails to shock, failed to take me back, failed to give me much more than a sore ass. I'm sure if you want to see this dive into netflix and see it, where editing might improve it.

    I did not love. I can say I saw it and was underwhelmed. I too might wince if I hear the words "pipe dream" or "iceman" in the next few weeks.

    Yes the iceman does come no surprise there!

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    1. I had a free ticket but passed as O'Neill reminds me of my college lit courses. If it were Pinter i would've sat on the bed-of-nails chairs.

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  19. Myself and three friends saw this Sunday February 15, 2015 and were all totally glad to have seen it and felt like the time flew by. Some of us had seen it before and some not. I had seen the production with Kevin Spacey and wasn't sure I wanted to see it again as that was not gripping. My feeling about Nathan Lane was very unsure if this were a role he could perform. For me he was a real Hickey trying to get approval from everyone. The production led by a cast portraying unique individuals was outstanding. Brian Dennehey was one of this stellar cast. There was life in this portrayal of the down and out. Staging all around was supportive of this fine afternoon at the theater.

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  20. My husband and I saw this Feb 15th.while we enjoyed I must say that we are enamored of Brian Dennehy and went firstmost to see him .He did not disappoint. Nathan Lane also showed a very good dramatic side.That being said the first act dragged a bit. I also felt that for 233 dollars the seats we had orchestra last row were overpriced and a bit difficult to see. Still glad to seeit.

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  21. My husband and I saw this Feb 15th.while we enjoyed I must say that we are enamored of Brian Dennehy and went firstmost to see him .He did not disappoint. Nathan Lane also showed a very good dramatic side.That being said the first act dragged a bit. I also felt that for 233 dollars the seats we had orchestra last row were overpriced and a bit difficult to see. Still glad to seeit.

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  22. Best show I've seen in years. Nathan Lane gave a performance for the ages. Dennehy has such weight and presence it's like the stage was leaning to the side he was seated on. The entire ensemble was absolutely fantastic. Brilliant work, everyone. And the play itself, well, what can you say. The work of a master. Beyond great. Loved it. Riveting from start to finish.

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  23. Four hours of argumentative drunks with three merciful intermissions. OK, admittedly I bailed after the first two hours. Brilliant acting aside, I despised every one of the characters and wanted to tell them all to STFU. If you like hearing losers—intoxicated losers—relentlessly curse their loserdom, fling sarcasm and hurl accusations at each other, spew diatribes, and behave in a repulsive manner, you possess a patience I lack. Such behavior is tedious, and when I encounter people who behave this way in real life, I avoid them. Seeing them onstage in a classic drama doesn't make them any more entertaining or appealing. My first and last encounter with O'Neill. Four freaking hours of obnoxious behavior. Is O'Neill the Von Stroheim of the stage?

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    1. I guess that's why we have Disney movies.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. Thanks, "Anonymous." I'm a big fan of your fearless commentary on this and other blogs.

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  24. wow... Irwin missed EVERYTHING... LOL (“God damn you, stop shoving your rotten soul in my lap!”)

    the Harvey shows the very best plays in NYC, King Lear (two different productions), Richard III, A Doll's House, Six Characters in Search of an Author , The Master Builder, The Caretaker, Krapp's Last Tape .... I could go on and on, and The Iceman was superb -

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  25. Wouldn't have missed the chance to see this iconic drama. High marks
    for the production - sets, lighting, etc., - and the interesting,
    Harvey.(although my companion said his performance was one-dimensional) However, the play itself is too long, too repetitive, to
    predictable. It could be half the length with half the cast. It's
    overloaded with character actors whom I found not nearly as memorable as
    did the reviews. I found myself not caring what happens to these
    characters. Too much extreme behavior in a play? and not enough
    baseline, "ordinary" behavior? Where's the drama? A boring play.
    Elsa

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  26. Read my review of this production on my blog, The "WagnerBlog" at: http://wagneroperas.blogspot.com/

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  27. Hold on to your heart, stay alert, not a wasted line, actors breathed together, sets were perfect, and it's provoking. Proof one shouldn't be denied great theater, and access to great theater is life changing.

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  28. A truly superb and extraordinary production. The finest live theater I have ever seen. But Nathan Lane was so over the top extraordinary that it is hard to find words to express the appreciation for his marvelous performance. And Brian Denehy as Larry was a great counterpoint to Lane and wonderful in his own, But what was truly amazing was that there was not one weak performance in the entire cast; they were all amazing and so involved in their characters as to bring them all to life. After a huge standing ovation at the end, I noticed Brian Denehy put his arm on Nathan Lane's shoulder as they walked off-stage and they both cast an appreciative glance at each other knowing that together they made it happen for us all and for themselves. BRAVO!

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  29. BEWARE: The seats in the balcony of the Harvey theatre are very uncomfortable and the production is 4 hours and 45 minutes. They are make of plywood with minimal cushioning. I am a fit 27 year old male and I had a hard time sitting through the production. I will never sit in the balcony of the Harvey again.

    -Andrew

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    1. This not-so-fit 57yr old has sat in the Gallery 6 or 7 times over the last 4 yrs. Will be back considering the alternatives.

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  30. Nathan Lane was all in. He saturated the lines of the final monologue with a frenetic agony, honoring the darkly demented essence of Hickman. The entire cast was excellent, I thought, but Lane was exceptional. I couldn't help sobbing. It renewed my passion for a play that I was already quite mad about.

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  31. The show last night was stellar with superb acting by all.The simplicity of the sets and the excellent lighting did nothing but put all the focus on the actors, and they did not disappoint. Yes, the seats were very uncomfortable and I am no longer a young man but that did nothing to detract from the brilliance of the play. Bravo!

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  32. This was a birthday present to my husband, per his request. We knew it was almost 5 hours long and we were ready for it, however we were not ready for the seats to be so uncomfortable. My husband is 6'5 and there was no way he could last for the entire play with no leg room. We even switched seats, but to no avail. When I ordered the seats on the phone and expressed needing leg room, no one made mention of the row of chairs that separate the orchestra level from the first balcony. We maybe could have lasted if we were sitting in those seats. Unfortunately we left even before the first intermission. We were sad to miss it and I am afraid that was our last time at the Harvey Theatre.

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    1. I sat in those seats and highly recommend them to any body more than 6 feet...I'm 6'4" and was perfectly comfortable for all 5 hours!

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  33. A powerful theatre experience, with a strong company and excellent individual performances. Nathan Lane brought some dynamic energy to a part that is central to the life of the play. The design and production values were excellent. The play itself, though, left me somewhat cold. It was partly the language and partly the bewildering number of stories, each of which had to be played out for Hickey to prove his point - or not. Ultimately, though, it was not as engaging or cathartic as, say, Long Day's Journey into Night.

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  34. This is not a comment on the play - but BAM, thank you for the proactive management of the women's restroom. Really. Fastest moving ladies' line I've ever waited on.

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  35. Brilliant and thoroughly enjoyed Lane's take on Hickey...much different than Robards and Spacey. Big kudos to the director who had a monumental task keeping the stage alive with all those characters.

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  36. So glad to have been able to experience this performance live at least once in my lifetime. The ensemble was outstanding in every way. Every minute was alive. The play demands total commitment from both cast and audience, and I felt the collaboration working throughout the Harvey for the entire evening. Many thanks to The Goodman for coming east, and to BAM for hosting them. We all win.

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  37. I saw this production on February 26th. The staging is a marvel, the actors maintaining perfectly frozen stances whenever another actor is speaking. The sets, spare yet monumental, convey the notion of the characters' cavernous existence. Every actor is splendid here, but I would like to highlight the performance of Patrick Andrews as Don. He makes his character's anguish palpable.
    Eugene O'Neill's naturalistic vision is thoroughly realized in this production.

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  38. Elizabeth ParrishMarch 1, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    BAM thinks of everything. Ice Man is the best show I have ever seen at BAM!!! I thought the pacing was great. I tried to make a reservation in the restaurant before and they were only serving appetizers. The lady suggested we come by at 6 for a few small bites in there café ( yes, now they have a restaurant) and buy a meal sack online. Great idea for a 5 hour show. I made a mistake and ordered a chicken sandwich and the lady swapped it out because I’m a vegetarian. Then, they moved my seat to be closer to the stage. BIG WIN Employees!!!

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  39. I have never seen a theater more poorly managed than the Harvey. At the matinee on the day of a snowstorm, someone made a conscious decision to keep the auditorium itself closed until barely 15 minutes before curtain time, meaning that an entire theaterful of patrons was forced into the desperately overcrowded lobby, chest to back, for about half an hour -- a smelly, unpleasant, and actually physically dangerous experience that the fire-marshal should look into. And then, during the badly needed intermission breaks in this nearly 5-hour production, the theater allowed the audience only a rushed 15 minutes to troop thorugh the long bathroom lines and then run headlong back to their seats hoping to beat the curtain -- and not always making it, especially the handicapped. Would 5 more minutes have killed the managers? It's useless to have so many underutilized ushers standing around doing nothing when the basic management decisions are so stupidly abusive to the audience.
    Oh, and the stage performance was tremendous -- if you got to your seat in time.

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  40. I saw this production of Iceman, the first time I have ever seen the play, on Friday, February 27th. Going in I was a bit apprehensive that I could endure the four-hour and forty-five minute length of this play, but the quality of the O'Neill material; the superb performances, not just by Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy but also of John Douglas Thompson as Joe Mott and Salvatore Inzerillo as Rocky Pioggi the bartender; and the three intermissions made the whole experience not only enjoyable but also, at numerous times, thrilling.

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  41. Wow! This was my first time seeing the show. Although I had heard of The Iceman Cometh and of Eugene O'Neill, I was unfamiliar with the story. It is is basically about people using pipe dreams - what they plan to do tomorrow - as a way to tranquilize themselves today, and the consequences of this. As such, it is a universal message, which touches the soul.
    The actors really blended in to their characters, becoming them; and who knew that Nathan Lane could so convincingly act such a part? During the first two thirds, I, too, wanted to buy in to what he was selling. Later, his face flushed red with the emotion he was evoking. This was not acting; this was living the part.
    Brian Dennehy, too, was excellent in his role as a "cynic" watching the show. I would love to go to a bar where such profound questions about life were asked. My only question at the end: could a new show of this type possibly be brought to Broadway today? This is surely a classic.

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  42. I saw the play on March 3 and it was phenomenal. I went to see Brian Dennehy and he did not disappoint, but then, he is a seasoned actor of O'Neill plays. But, it was Nathan Lane who surprised me the most. He was extraordinary as Hickey. He must be so proud to know that he can portray this depth of emotion so magnificently. Every actor in the ensemble was perfectly attuned to his or her role, too.

    This is what theater should be. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see this, and in Brooklyn, no less.

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  43. First off, my seat was not cushioned and I had to walk all the way to it from the entrance. I don't ever have those kinds of problems with Netflix and Hulu. To make matters worse, this so-called play ran over four hours long! It really was closer to five hours. Didn't anyone think of doing the abridged version? We should have been warned.

    No, really, this was fabulous. When we first read the reviews of the Chicago production we almost flew there to see it, so we were thrilled that BAM brought it east. We'd seen Dennehy in LDJIN, and Lane in Godot (among other performances), and they did not disappoint us. Sure, the play has its moments that ring odd to today's audiences, but it's power and the wonderful ensemble performance were really compelling.
    We had seen Robards in the Hickey role in the 1980s, and in that performance the show was all his. In this performance, not to take anything away from Lane's wonderful work, the heart of the show was Larry, and Harry Hope.
    If you can see it, you should. You won't regret it.
    P.S. We agree with the comment about managing the women's bathroom.

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  44. Saw the March 7th show. Wasn't bored for a minute. The time flew, and every word Dennehy said was crystal clear: in last row balcony ! That's a theater artist ! It was a privilege to see this classic right in my own hometown. OK, the seats are hell, and so is the climb, but that's better than making this classic old theater a parking lot ! Looking forward to "Ghosts" !

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  45. I had a real problem with the March 6 performance and am very disappointed. I was sitting in row G, center and had a very difficult time hearing the performers. Brian Dennehy's opening monologue was completely lost to me. One of my friends who accompanied me had the same problem. It got so bad, that we had to request assisted hearing devices, although there is nothing wrong with our hearing. Needless to say, this greatly affected our appreciation of the production. The sound was awful - dead. Many people in the audience left during the 1st intermission. Many more left during the second and third intermissions. The common complaint was the inability to hear. What a waste!

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    1. Christopher JohnsonMarch 13, 2015 at 12:02 PM

      We had the same problem on March 10. Apart from Lane, Grapey, Hoogenakker, and the understudy Jonathan Earl Peck, everyone in the show was either inaudible, incomprehensible, or both, for much or all of this very long evening. We could make out perhaps three words of Kate Arrington's performance. Brian Dennehy came through clearly only in his single extended speech, in Act Three, and then lapsed back in mumble the minute he had to interact with others. Even the great Stephen Ouimette, for whose sake alone we had bought tickets the minute they went on sale, was intelligible only intermittently until Act Four, and by then it was too late to have any real sense of what he was doing with his character. The only one who may have had an excuse was John Douglas Thomas, who seemed under the weather in Act One and was replaced by Peck for the rest of the evening. Like the anonymous poster to whose comment I am replying, I have no hearing impairment whatsoever--in fact, we were in the fourth row of the Gallery, and I was keenly aware of iPhone "Message" pings going off all over the orchestra all night--so I can't see this as anything other than low energy or poor diction. A real disappointment.

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    2. Agreed. we were front row mezz--admittedly on the far right in the box. Comfortable seating (partial view which only was a real problem in Act III) but the sound was terrible. We have no problems with hearing but given this is an O'Neill play, one needs to be able to follow the extensive dialogue clearly. A major problem in my view and truly limited our experience.

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  46. March 8th matinee performance. although i looked forward to this and was well aware it was a 4:45 min play we only lasted until the 2nd intermission. Balcony seating is horrendous, nothing more than wooden bar stools with a thin piece of fabric covering. It is a pretty steep angle but that didn't have as much of an impact as the seats themselves. As far as the performance what we saw was fantastic but in those balcony seats there was no way we could have lasted another 2 hours, unfortunate for sure. If i am to visit BAM again I will pay the extra to be downstairs.

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  47. I'm not a theater expert, but when I recognize a part of me in the actors in a production, I'm moved and changed to some extent. That was my experience at the March 8 show (and I was sitting in the last row in the balcony). Thanks to every actor and all others involved. After the show, I took the 2 train to Greenwich Village, and had two beers in a "divey" place near where the "Hell Hole" once stood. Harry, Larry and Hickey weren't there, but there were other dreamers, including me. Thanks.

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  48. First let me say, All the actors were great, but Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy were amazing! One problem with this theater are the seats in the Gallery, they are like bar stools and for a 4.5 hour show they can become very uncomfortable after the first 2 hours. Please get new seats!

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  49. I thought that the production and the cast were excellent. I've seen the play a couple of times, plus the film, so I wasn't sure that I'd be drawn in as I had been before. I was and I thank everyone for a great afternoon. Now, what follows may seem like carping: the lobby was jammed and too many chairs at the tables were filled with coats, purses, bags, etc. How could people be so selfish; chairs are for sitting, damn it. Can't someone in the lobby staff take care of this problem? And, don't, for one minute, think that just because winter is leaving that with warmer weather this problem will go away. Wrong!! The performance was great; the lobby, a mess.

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  50. Anonymous March 10th 2015
    Sunday's performance was just wonderful. What a privilege to experience superb acting, and the directing and lighting was first rate, for sure.
    I have a suggestion concerning the hearing devices. The theater I believe is wired for advance hearing reception for those that do not hear well. The person giving out the hearing devices does not ask if one is wearing hearing aids. He needs to tell people about the device one can wear around their necks which relates to theater wiring. Also be clear about how to adjust ones own hearing aids to relate to the theater's hearing set up.
    I do not wear a hearing aid, but used a regular device, and still had some difficulty hearing. When one is under the balcony, I think the sound is somewhat blocked.
    To sum up, please have the person that distributes your hearing devices, much more informed!

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  51. I just saw this magnificent production tonight. I have not seen a professional play in many years, so it was doubly sweet this one. I got to see a superb production, and a production of one of my favorite plays by one of my favorite playwrights.

    Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy were astounding. The whole cast was fabulous. The play is a deeply sad, profound, amazing work, and this production really brought it out.

    One small quip. The seats in the upper gallery are very uncomfortable, especially for a 4 hour play.

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  52. A powerful, memorable production. Superb lighting and directorial effects.

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  53. Derek H. Jones AtlantaMarch 13, 2015 at 6:57 PM

    A well acted, well directed production with a great set. The problem was that it was too long - Wednesday night it ran almost five hours - which diminished the work's impact. I was worn out by the end, and had the play been edited by an hour or more the effect would have been stronger.
    That being said I am glad that I attended as how often does one get an opportunity to see any production of an Eugene O'Neill play let alone Iceman. The actors gave many first rate performances as referenced by many positive comments made in the earlier postings on this site. However, the revelation for me was Salvatore Inzerillo's Rocky. I liked his work best as he took a part that I had always thought of as a cartoon character speaking a weird dialect and made it real. His play by play commentary on Harry Hope outside the saloon trying to take his walk around the ward was priceless.

    For me it was a night well spent and I am hoping that this director revisits Long Day's Journey Into Night. And if he does, I fervently wish that he edits the work as it too is too long. I do not think that O'Neill's work is so sacrosanct that the text is untouchable.

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  54. That's 5 hours of my life I won't get back. Dennehy's performance - lackluster. Lane's performance - over-acted, forced over-emotional, not believable. The incessant use of the word "pipe dreams" a bore. Many of the actors were Inaudible at times (not, we're not hearing impaired). This was our first and last performance at BAM. The seats in the gallery were wooden bar stools with a thin sheath of 1970's fabric. Disappointing performances, terrible audio, the most physically uncomfortable theater experience ever.

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  55. Jean-Pierre BerlietMarch 15, 2015 at 7:12 PM

    An excellent play, of which we missed much because the acoustics were poor were we were sitting. I feel that I will have to read the play now, to get the benefit of what could have been a terrific evening. Only Nathan Lane's diction and voice projection were clear enough to get to us. What a shame.

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  56. Loved the production, Lane was remarkable, a different take then Kevin Spacey's Broadway production some 15 years back, but there is room for both interpretations. Overall, the cast was superb.
    But it was a terrible venue for such a drama. I was so far back, I could barely see the production, the stairs were miserable, the seats uncomfortable. The food unwrapping was so noisy!~ There was not enough room in the lobby for the 3 intermissions, which were only 15 minutes, so by the time I climbed down from my seat to the lobby, it was time to go back up!
    Since my seat was so lousy, my friend offered me HER seat for the last act. Well, someone else grabbed the seat left vacant for me, and refused to move when I tried to take this seat, and my friend had already found a better seat, and had no idea this was happening, she thought she was doing me a favor! The usher did nothing, despite my explanations that the seat was intended for ME and since the last act was about to start, and this stubborn young woman refused to budge, I was back in my lousy last row seat where I could barely see. All this cost me over $100 (recall there are service charges tacked on) so I was disappointed in such a large venue for an intense drama which clearly calls for more intimacy.
    How rude the young are, I still cannot get past this young woman who simply would not budge no matter how many times I explained that the seat was left open for me to utilize, and indeed the tickets were paid for on MY credit card! And no assistance from the usher, whatsoever. Very upsetting.

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  57. We love Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy and, probably, would have enjoyed the play had we been able to hear the characters other than, perhaps, every other sentence making it impossible to really absorb the full thrust of the performances. We were sitting in the "upper orchestra" - however, I've heard that people in rows 1 - 10 in the lower orchestra could not hear, either. To our great disappointment, we had to leave after the first act and feel we threw out hard-earned money. BTW: we are not hearing impaired and do not typically need hearing devices for other plays and in our general activities. How in the world did the people above us make out? P.S. this isn't all about acoustics. The seats could use some help, too. We are not heavy people, but someone who is overweight would have a problem and the leg room - well thank the Lord my husband who is 6 feet had an aisle seat otherwise he would have been incredibly cramped. It's one thing to maintain the character of a venerable theater - it's another to charge high prices so people can be uncomfortable. Between the seats and the horrible overhead ceilings that look like hanging dust and asbestos, this is offensive to customers. Will probably never return to this theater.

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  58. Nathan Lane was wonderful as the lead in this play. It is an exhausting role and he had the same high level of energy from start to finish. He became Hickey on stage. Brian Dennehy wasn't as good. He played Larry but without any great enthusiasm and I did not feel that Larry was really there as a person. The female roles were also disappointing. The females actors were unable to play their roles so that each of the three females had a different personae. They were all the same streetwalker. Chuck was well played when he was in his wedding suit but otherwise not too interesting. Parritt was well done since his character is meant to be annoying and he was that. Harry Hope was also well played as a complex and very troubled character. The other actors were uneven.
    The acoustics were bad. I was in row "T" and I could not hear Parritt half the time and Larry didn't project well either especially when he was slouching and had his head pointed down. I agree with one of the other contributors that the theatre looks like a dump. It has been in operation long enough with market rate tickets that it's current look is no longer chic nor appropriate. Fix the place up to look like a proper theatre.

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