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The Iceman Cometh

The Iceman Cometh
Your Price: $14.95 CDN
Author: Eugene O'Neill
Publisher: Yale University Press
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 219
Pub. Date: 2006
ISBN-10: 0300117434
ISBN-13: 9780300117431

About the Play:

The Iceman Cometh was one of Royal National Theatre of Britain's top 100 plays of the 20th century.

The Iceman Cometh is a full-length drama by Nobel Laureate and four-time Pulitzer Prize winner Eugene O'Neill. Set in the summer of 1912 at Harry Hope's saloon on New York's lower west side, this is O'Neill's classic story of a freespending, boisterous salesman who compels his fellow barflies to confront their pipe dreams.

The Iceman Cometh focuses on a group of alcoholics and misfits who endlessly discuss but never act on their dreams, and Hickey, the travelling salesman determined to strip them of their pipe dreams. Eugene O'Neill mined the tragedies of his own life for this depiction of a seedy, skid row saloon in 1912, peopled by society's failures: worn-out anarchists, failed con artists, drifters, whores, pimps, and informers. Welcome to Harry Hope's saloon, home to a ragtag band of drunks and dreamers who today numb themselves with rotgut gin and make grandiose plans, while waiting for the annual appearance of Hickey, the big-spending, fast-talking travelling salesman whose raucous presence always ensures a grand good time. But this year's visit fails to bring the expected good times, when a newly sober Hickey blows in with a renewed outlook on life, his zealous attempts to fix the lives of his old friends lead to a series of events that are at once devastatingly comic and heartbreaking — and culminate with a revelation that threatens to shatter the tenuous illusions that fuel their lives. One of the greatest plays in American drama, The Iceman Cometh is an unparallelled theatrical journey that exposes the human need for illusion as an antidote to despair.

Eugene O'Neill completed The Iceman Cometh in 1939, but he delayed production until after the war, when it enjoyed a long run of performances in 1946 at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York, after receiving mixed reviews. Three years after O'Neill's death, Jason Robards starred in a Broadway revival that brought new critical attention to O'Neill's darkest and most nihilistic play. In the half century since, The Iceman Cometh has gained enormously in stature, and many critics now recognize it as one of the greatest plays in American drama. The gripping, critically acclaimed 1987 Broadway revival has highlighted anew the subversive genius of O'Neill's play.

Cast: 3 women, 16 men

What people say:

"...as corrosive as rotgut whiskey, as morbidly funny as a funeral gone amok, as hallucinatory as an alcohol-fueled excursion into purgatory." — Chicago Sun-Times

"Spellbinding – soaring theater. For reasons that remain mysterious, it seems especially moving today." — The New York Times

About the Playwright:

Eugene O'Neill (1889–1953), the father of American drama, the author of 49 plays, won four Pulitzer Prizes for drama, and is the only American playwright to have received a Nobel Prize (1936).

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