Monday, February 20, 2017


With the rich and creamy taste of milk chocolate caramels and the fragrant whiff of pick roses still perfuming the air from Valentine's Day, it is appropriate to savor the hints of romance that tinge the atmosphere in Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten."  West Hartford's Playhouse on Park will be scrapping away the dirt covered rocks at the Hogan's Connecticut farm to reveal layers of dreams and despair, hopes and unhappiness, promise and pain until Sunday, March 5.

This is theater at its best, moving and emotional, touching and tender, heartbreaking and redemptive.  Elise Hudson is wonderful as the strong, unvarnished Josie who, despite her hard scrabble life, still believes in fairy tale endings.  She stands up to and battles her old goat of a father, brought to stinging  life by Conan McCarthy.  He has already chased away his two older sons and now Josie has aided son Mike (Michael Hinton) to flee to find a better life.

The two are schemers and as tenant farmers have little to hang on to except the promise of their current landlord James Tyrone Jr. that he will eventually sell them their tiny square of land, once his inheritance from his newly deceased father is settled.  They cling to this hope of possessing their own land and are dismayed when word reaches them that their contentious and wealthy neighbor T. Stedman Harder (Thomas Royce Daniels) has made a higher offer.

Set at their dilapidated farm house in 1923, beautifully detailed by Emily Nichols,  Josie and her conniving dad look to James Tyrone, an actor who likes his liquor too well, as the solution to all their problems. Anthony Marble's James professes to be in love with Josie but he is besieged by demons that won't free their grasp.  He is tenderly conflicted as he tries to be the man he wants to be and give Josie love.

 To secure their future, a plot is hatched for Josie to seduce James and have her pa catch them, forcing him to do the honorable deed and marry her.  There is a nobility of spirit as the "misbegotten" lovers are seduced by the moonlight, as tenderly directed by Joseph Discher.

For tickets ($30-35-40, seniors and students $25), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext. 10, or online at  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at  8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Watch for a series of Comedy Nights coming March 18, April 15 and June 3, all $15, 8 p.m. A special play reading will take place on Tuesday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. of “The Telling and Re-Telling of Lucy and Owen, $5.

Come be beguiled with a glass of whiskey and a slice of moonlight as Eugene O'Neill weaves a heartbreaking tale of possibilities and  promise.

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