A Moon for the Misbegotten

Play by Eugene O'Neill. Set on the Tyrones' Connecticut farm, which has been leased to bullying widower Phil Hogan. Hogan's strong, earthy daughter Josie loves Jim Tyrone, Jr, an alcoholic actor who has come back to the farm after his mother's death. To secure his hold on the farm, Hogan convinces Josie that Jim intends to sell it; he encourages Josie to seduce Jim and force a marriage proposal. The pair spend an evening in conversation, which exposes Josie's softer side and Jim's inner torment.

1954: London Premiere with Grace Poole and Diarmuid Kelly

1960: London Revival with Margaret Whiting and Michael Aldridge

1983: London Revival with Frances de la Tour and Ian Bannen

2006: West End London Premiere with Eve Best and Kevin Spacey

Eugene O'Neill's plays seen in London include Long Day's Journey Into Night, The Iceman Cometh, The Hairy Ape, and Mourning Becomes Electra.


1954: London Premiere with Grace Poole and Diarmuid Kelly

Opened 16 February 1954 (no previews), Closed 20 February 1954 at the Royal Artillery Theatre Woolwich (demolished)

The cast featured Grace Poole as 'Josie Hogan', Diarmuid Kelly as 'James Tyrone Jnr', Seamus O'Gorman as 'Phil Hogan', Gordon Daisley as 'Mike Hogan', and Glyn Davys as 'T Stedman Harder'.

Directed by Arnold Fry.

Presented by Arnold Fry as the first part of an International Plays Season at the Royal Artillery Theatre which also included Sean O'Faolain's She Had to do Something from Tuesday 23 to Saturday 27 February 1954. Unfortunately, due to a combination of the financial loses suffered by the first two plays, and a failure to obtain permission to present the following two plays - Carl Zuckmayer's The Captain of Kopenick, and Karel Capek's The Makropoulos Secret - forced the theatre to close down. The fifth, and final play, that was scheduled to be performed was Afinogenev's Distant Point.

The 1,000-seater Royal Artillery Theatre was located as part of the Royal Artillery in Woolwich.


1960: London Revival with Margaret Whiting and Michael Aldridge

Opened 20 January 1960 (no previews), Closed 27 February 1960 at the Arts Theatre

The cast featured Margaret Whiting as 'Josie Hogan', Michael Aldridge as 'Jim Tyrone Jnr', Colin Blakely as 'Phil Hogan', Laidlaw Dalling as 'Mike Hogan', and Blake Butler as 'T Stedman Harder'.

Directed by Clifford Williams, with designs by Brian Currah.


1983: London Revival with Frances de la Tour and Ian Bannen

Previewed 14 June 1983, Opened 21 June 1983, Closed 17 July 1983 at the Riverside Studios
Previewed 6 September 1983, Opened 9 September 1983, Closed 12 November 1983 at the Mermaid Theatre (disused)

The cast featured Frances de la Tour as 'Josie Hogan', Ian Bannen as 'Jim Tyrone Jnr', Alan Devlin as 'Phil Hogan', Piers Ibbotson as 'Mike Hogan' (Riverside), Mark Knox as 'Mike Hogan' (Mermaid), and Ronald Fernee as 'T Stedman Harder'.

Directed by David Leveaux, with sets by Brien Vahey, and costumes by Carol Lawrence.

The Mermaid Theatre was a 600-seater theatre in the City of London, at Puddle Dock, adjacent to Blackfriars Railway Station. It is now used as an events and conference venue.


2006: West End London Premiere with Eve Best and Kevin Spacey

Previewed 15 September 2006, Opened 26 September 2006, Closed 23 December 2006 at the Old Vic Theatre

A major revival of Eugene O'Neill classic play A Moon for the Misbegotten in London starring Kevin Spacey and Eve Best

The cast featured Eve Best as 'Josie Hogan', Kevin Spacey as 'Jim Tyrone Jnr', Colm Meaney as 'Phil Hogan', Eugene O'Hare as 'Mike Hogan', and Billy Carter as 'T Stedman Harder'.

Directed by Howard Davies, with designs by Bob Crowley, lighting by Paule Constable, music by Dominic Muldowney, and sound by Christopher Shutt.

The director Howard Davies said: "Some people avoid Eugene O'Neill because they think he's difficult or clunky in his language, or that the themes overwhelm the characters. I think they're wrong to void him. I think he's fantastic. His plays are big, raw and epic, he's struggling with fundamental themes, like love and betrayal and revenge. They're big themes, but very human and totally recognisable."

Kevin Spacey, who plays 'Jim Tyrone' in this production, said: "Eugene O'Neill is one of those writers who seem to have absolutely nothing between their heart and their pen. He's able to write characters, including himself, at a remarkable distance, without seeming to judge them. He just present's them, warts and all... I think Moon For The Misbegotten: is a minor masterpiece. O'Neill's interest has always been in the struggle, to escape from your past, to be free in some way. All his plays on a large level have these thematic foundations about forgiveness and redemption and seeking some kind of peace. And it's their struggles that end up making all these characters worth paying attention to."

"Having given us back the Old Vic Theatre, Kevin Spacey is now giving us the performance of the year in Eugene O'Neill's long-neglected work... His theatrical career has always been rooted in O 'Neill - it was O'Neill who first brought him to the Vic more than five years ago. Spacey has now not only reunited with Howard Davies, the director of that triumphant Iceman Cometh, but also recruited two other expert O'Neill players, Eve Best and Colm Meaney, to offer a masterclass in America's most demanding and, were it not for Arthur Miller, greatest playwright... Early critics accused O'Neill of having lost his sense of drama here. But what he had found at the end of his writing life was a searing mix of psychological insight and unashamed romanticism, brilliantly brought to the stage now in Howard Davies's carefully measured production... If you only see one production this year, make it this one." The Daily Express

"Kevin Spacey is at his most mesmerising and magnificent as a despairing alcoholic in Eugene O'Neill's last play, A Moon For The Misbegotten. You won't find greater acting anywhere in London right now; you will, however, find better plays, for this occasionally preposterous piece takes a long half-hour - until Spacey's Jim Tyrone makes his entrance - to stutter into flame. Even then it tends to smoulder rather than scorch. It's only when Spacey is on stage, and especially when he and Eve Best are locked in a doomed embrace and an astonishing stage partnership, that the play truly blazes... This is a play in which two lost souls reveal themselves as they really are to one another during a long night's journey into day. In a moving pieta, as the tortured Tyrone rests his head on Josie's breast, he finds peace for the first and last time in his life." The Mail on Sunday

"If it's now considered acceptable Shakespeare's works to be liposuctioned - even at Stratford they are looking remarkably slim these days - I can't see why Howard Davies couldn't have inserted the vacuum pump into Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten before inflicting it, in its flabby entirety, on audiences at the Old Vic Theatre. The play is, as the programme concedes, merely a 'minor' masterpiece, but at three hours long, and in the hands of a creative team that clearly has an unnatural fondness for the original text, it is a major ordeal... A lot of the problem is that the story, while very long, is not very eventful... The sense of torpor is not helped by Bob Crowley's great lump of a set - a farmhouse that looks more like a garden shed - which is too heavy a thing to be moved and thus all the action, so far as it can be called action, is all played out, somewhat improbably, on its porch." The Sunday Telegraph

A Moon for the Misbegotten in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 15 September 2006, opened on 26 September 2006, and closed on 23 December 2006.