This is a masterly production of one of my favourite plays.
Constance Cummings just breaks your heart with her fluttering hands and slight stammer. The young Ronald Pickup is a revelation. I love all his work but it's so nice not to see him playing yet another crusty middle-aged, middle-class type. So good-looking too! Denis Quilley is superb in an unattractive role as the "bad" brother. I loved the bit where he launches into a Shakespeare role, mimicking Olivier's early style, and earns a rebuking glare from Sir Larry/James Tyrone. And as for Sir Larry - heartbreakingly funny, if that makes sense.
This is a wonderful production of a great play about family dynamics. How love and hate, admiration and contempt are intermingled in our closest relationships. To quote The Hoosiers, "We love the ones that we betray".
The only "faults" that I can find are 1) some lines have been omitted from the original text, and 2) I found Maureen Lipman's role as the maid a bit "stage-Oirish". I know that it's only a small role and provides some comic relief but really... I just cringed whenever she was present. Instead of being an all-seeing, all-knowing Greek Chorus, she flapped around like a refugee from an Oscar Wilde or Moliere comedy.
A moving yet funny play. It is so engrossing that the 161 minutes just zip by! I loved the way that the characters sat and observed each other - a play within a play. I watched this after enduring that farce of a film, "Dancing at Lughnasa". The latter was like a Disney cartoon in comparison.
Thank you, Eugene for sharing your pain and for giving us An American Beauty.