The Theater: The Ordeal of Eugene O'Neill

Twelve years ago, the most exalted playwright in the history of the U.S. theater formally bowed off his worldwide stage. Eugene O'Neill intended to devote himself exclusively to one of the most ambitious dramatic projects ever undertaken: the writing of a cycle of nine plays. Purpose: to dramatize the fate of a U.S. family and of the U.S. itself during a period of some 180 years (1754 to 1932).

One afternoon last week, for reasons best known to himself, O'Neill was back on Broadway with a mysterious play, mysteriously titled The Iceman Cometh, which...

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