by Eugene O'Neill
Ron Perlman played the role of Chuck Morello in this production, and the play was directed by Warren Frost.
Once again no further details on Ron's version of "The Iceman Cometh," but these extracts from two reviews of a later version of the play give a brief synopsis of the storyline.
The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill is a brilliant play that explores a very painful emotional terrain: what people tell themselves to get through another day. Although the characters in this play are singularly broken humans, their clinging to a dignity that exists in a better tomorrow always one day away speaks profoundly to how many people get through their lives.
Throughout the play the scene is laid in a New York backroom and bar in 1912. In this setting Mr. O'Neill assembles a group of down-and-outs who for the most part have abandoned their various callings for drink and dreams. The bar is symbolic: --
It's Bedrock Bar, the End of the Line Café, the Bottom of the Sea Rathskeller, the Last Harbor! No one here has to worry about where they're going next because there is no farther they can go. It's a great comfort to them. Although even here they keep up the appearances of life with a few harmless pipe dreams about their yesterdays and tomorrow. These pipe dreams are the subject of the play. If you were to ask why the inmates of Harry's bar don't shoot themselves, the answer is that each of them is fooling himself with the comforting illusion about his past and future. There are two scarred relics of the Boer War who dream of going back to England and Africa respectively. An ex-policeman, discharged for graft, dreams of returning to the "force." One character is actually nicknamed Jimmy Tomorrow. The landlord is called Harry Hope. His hope is to return to Tammany; but he has not left the Last Harbor for twenty years.
Both of his bartenders double as pimps, but as the story opens, the bartenders, Rocky and Chuck, claim only to be hard-working men protecting "tarts," the women who work as prostitutes and turn over their money to them.
When Rocky's two girls arrive, it's just in time for many of the other denizens in the bar to drift back to sleep. A natural way to turn over the stage to the new players, to introduce them and their issues. Like the men, the women live in their pipe dreams. Pearl, one of Rocky's girls, accidentally refers to him as a "pimp," which threatens to set off Rocky, but the girls live and let live. Rocky's not a pimp, they're "tarts," not prostitutes.
Chuck and Cora's pipe dream is marriage and a farm in "Joisey."
Every character in this story is dramatically "ripe." They speak about the issues closest to their hearts in scenes designed to bring out in bold relief who they are. There is not a moment in this story when these characters are not scraping, making up, protecting their denial, expressing their pain and outrage, threatening each other, revealing who they are in moments of passionate revelation. All that would be weak or ordinary or unimaginative has been stripped away.
This is a brilliant play.
Extracts taken from reviews by Bill Johnson and Eric Bentley