Long Day’s Journey into Night at Bristol Old Vic

It’s always such a treat to go to the Old Vic; it makes you feel like you are part of something special. When you couple this with a world class theatre production, what you have is a life enhancing cultural experience and this is what my mid-week visit was for me!

Long Day’s Journey into Night has all the promise of a brilliant performance with Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville cast in the leading roles, and it delivers. But these characters do not stand alone in their brilliance; the full cast has been well placed.

As well as being aesthetically marvellous, the set is designed so that instantly you’re in the room with the characters, pulled into their daily lives and their family unit from the offset. Before long, I had built an empathy with each of the very different characters and, as the story progressed, so did the relationship between them. The characters are (mostly) all members of the same family but, as the script unfolds to the audience through clever storytelling, you understand how each of these people have lived very varied lives, albeit together as a family, each leading them to be very different people but under the same roof. The way each of their personalities and life choices has affected in turn the life of the other family members is so poignant and, for me, is the main thread of the play.

This story is intense. Go to watch this play if you want to push your own emotional boundaries and if you are willing to engulf yourself in the dynamics of another family life. It is over 3 hours long – at times the character acting is so good it’s almost unbearable. Although this family’s set up dates back to the late 19th Century, the emotions that the characters go through during the day that the audience spends with them bear similarities to anyone’s family. You will witness jealousy, love, admiration, angst, and laughter, which any ‘normal’ family will resonate.

Long Day’s Journey into Night is at Bristol Old Vic until 23rd April


  • Review by Anna Southwell


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