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Matthew d’Ancona’s Culture: Long Day’s Journey Into Night is breathtaking

Our editor-at-large’s rundown of the pick of the week’s theatre, television, books and cinema

Cast members Louisa Harland, Daryl McCormack, Brian Cox, Patricia Clarkson and Laurie Kynaston bow at the curtain call during the press night performance of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" at Wyndham's Theatre (Photo by Alan Chapman/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Wyndham’s Theatre, London, until June 8

“They had identified me with that one part, and didn’t want me in anything else”. When Brian Cox delivers this line in Jeremy Herrin’s fine production of Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, it is hard not to think of his own ineradicable connection with the role of Logan Roy in Succession.

Yet the thought passes very quickly. Cox, after all, is one of the great Shakespearean actors of the age, arguably its finest Lear, and a versatile screen performer. As the boozed-up, miserly patriarch James Tyrone, he is a broken man whose outbursts of rage cannot conceal the pain and guilt he feels as, during a single day in 1912, he beholds the respective afflictions of his wife Mary (Patricia Clarkson), and sons Edmund (Laurie Kynaston) and Jamie (Daryl McCormack).

Edmund’s suspected consumption and Jamie’s dissolute failure as an actor entrench the sense of a dynastic curse, embodied in the fog that encircles the Tyrones’ summer house. But the success or failure of Long Day’s Journey Into Night invariably depends upon the performers playing James and Mary being a match for one another. Ralph Richardson was outshone by Katharine Hepburn in Sidney Lumet’s 1962 movie version, whereas Constance Cummings was undaunted by Laurence Olivier in the 1971 Royal National Theatre production.

Clarkson and Cox, likewise, are a phenomenal pairing; Mary’s addiction to morphine is presented as a bid to stop time in its tracks, while her husband’s devotion to the bottle reflects his need to maintain a bravado that fools nobody, least of all himself. Their bittersweet chemistry is often breathtaking. Highly recommended.


After Alain Delon’s magnificent performance as Tom Ripley in Plein Soleil (1960) and Anthony Minghella’s acclaimed The Talented Mr Ripley (1999), why revisit Patricia Highsmith’s most celebrated character? The straightforward answer is: Andrew Scott.

After his recent triumphs on stage in Vanya and on screen in Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers, Scott is now squarely in his imperial phase, and his interpretation of Ripley, the psychotic conman and social interloper, is genuinely original in its nuance and shape-shifting agility. Only obliquely does he reveal shards of his true self – as, for example, when he claims to hate refrigerators as symbols of a domesticity that destroys freedom.

Arriving in Atrani on the Amalfi coast in 1960, he befriends socialite Dickie Greenleaf (Johnny Flynn) – whose girlfriend Marge Sherwood (Dakota Fanning) instantly and correctly suspects the motive of this smiling villain. Ripley is both a voyeur and a man who wants it all, and Scott captures this duality to chilling effect.

Steven Zaillian’s eight-part series is also an aesthetic masterclass, thanks in large part to Robert Elswit’s dazzling black-and-white cinematography. It is no accident that Caravaggio is so often referenced, for this is an Italy of endlessly striking tableaux: empty churches, light falling upon the cobbles of side streets, sumptuous palazzi, and murder at midnight.

by Cathy Newman
William Collins

Before she achieved distinction in the world of broadcasting, Cathy Newman was a rising star at the Financial Times; so it is no surprise that her books are as good as they are. I especially enjoyed her latest, which quarries her regular Friday interviews with successful women on Times Radio.

The list of those chipping in with their hard-earned wisdom is remarkable in itself: Geena Davis, Jude Kelly, Yalda Hakim, Lionel Shriver, Davina McCall, Angela Rayner, Baroness Hale, Maureen Lipman, Marina Litvinenko and many more. Newman structures The Ladder adeptly and sets her journalistic findings within an impressive literary and philosophical framework. A self-help book for women that every man should read, too.

General release

To the list of contenders to be the next James Bond must now be added the name of Dev Patel. In this stylish, high-octane revenge thriller, the actor who made his name as Anwar in the E4 teen drama Skins stakes his claim as both a capable director and a premier league action movie star.

Set in the fictional Indian city of Yatana, Monkey Man follows “the Kid” (Patel) as he ekes out a living in underground fights, while seeking vengeance for the horrific murder of his mother (Adithi Kalkunte) – first, by landing a kitchen job at a high-end club and brothel where his corrupt and venal targets often congregate.

“You like John Wick?” asks a dealer when he buys his first illegal firearm: a question that answers itself, as Patel proceeds to go on a Keanu-style rampage. Homage is also paid to Kill Bill, The Raid and Enter the Dragon: this is a relentlessly violent grindhouse flick but delivered with panache, sensational fight choreography and true vigour.

You can see why Jordan Peele came on board as a producer. Could Patel, who is still only 33, be the next 007? On this evidence, most definitely.

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