Eugene O’Neill classic ‘Anna Christie’ opens at The Old Globe

Bill Buell (Chris Christopherson), Jessica Love (Anna Christopherson) and Austin Durant (Mat Burke) intrigue in ‘Anna Christie,” directed by Daniel Goldstein. Photo by Henry DiRocco
Bill Buell (Chris Christopherson), Jessica Love (Anna Christopherson) and Austin Durant (Mat Burke) intrigue in ‘Anna Christie,” directed by Daniel Goldstein. Photo by Henry DiRocco

If you go

What:

‘Anna Christie’

When:

Matinees, evenings through April 15

Where:

Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre,

1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park

Tickets:

From $29

Box Office:

(619) 23-GLOBE

Website:

theoldglobe.org

By Diana Saenger

Eugene O’Neill’s classic drama “Anna Christie,” is a window on the life of Anna Christopherson, a young woman who goes looking for her estranged father, Chris Christopherson, 15 years after he abandoned her to live with relatives.

When she finds her father, now an old sailor who runs a barge and drinks a lot, Anna also meets Mat, and the two fall in love. But will Anna’s unrevealed past become the barrier that breaks them apart?

Theater patrons can revisit O’Neill’s masterful work in The Old Globe’s revival, directed by Daniel Goldstein, and running through April 15. The play won the 1922 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. (And later, the 1993 Drama Desk Award for Best Revival of a Play and the 1993 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.)

Austin Durant (“Death of a Salesman,” “Othello”) auditioned for the role of Mat. He received his B.A. from Temple University and his M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama, and was fresh off performing in the film “War Horse,” and ready for a change.

“Even though the language is a beast, this role resonated with me,” Durant said. “Mat is a big feeler, has such pathos and is so passionate. He kind of operates behind a mask, but as things start to unravel about Anna, that persona begins to drop away. The story functions on dramatic irony. We know from the beginning Anna carries a secret that the men in her life have to discover. But O’Neill keeps it interesting in how we get there.”

Jessica Love (“Map of Heaven,” “Bottom of the World”) takes on the role of the woman with a troubled past who is unsure how to regain her self-esteem. Greta Garbo and Charles Bickford played the romantic couple in the 1930 film.

Bill Buell (“The History Boys,” “Inherit the Wind”) plays Chris Christopherson. Other cast members include Bryan Banville (Longshoreman), Chance Dean (Longshoreman, Johnson), John Garcia (Johnny-the-Priest), Jason Maddy (Postman), and Kristine Nielsen (Marthy Owen).

Goldstein brings a wealth of experience to this production. He’s the director of the current Broadway revival of “Godspell,” and he directed “God of Carnage,” “The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown,” “Golden Boy,” “Annie” and “Artificial Fellow Traveler.” He co-wrote the musical “Unknown Soldier” with Michael Friedman.

“Daniel (Goldstein) brings such energy to the play,” Durant said. “He builds a trust in us, and us with him. The play is four different scenes so he has to get us through all the times, all the blows of life, that are thrown at these characters.

“He’s picked amazing actors who all know quite a lot about Eugene O’Neill and this classic. The humanity is palpable.”

   
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