(5 out of 5 stars)
""A Touch Of The Poet" is probably the best O'Neill play you've never seen or read, and so it is fortunate that this production has been preserved by the Broadway Theatre Archive. The two leads, Roberta Maxwell and Fritz Weaver, are amazing, and Nancy Marchand is splendid as the passively adoring and long-suffering wife. The story, which is set in the era of the rise of Andrew Jackson, has a startlingly contemporary feel, evoking both the immigrant experience as well as the rise of the American industrial society. An amazing work, the only completed play in what O'Neill's planned as an eleven play cycle. Buy this, and enjoy."
"A born dreamer with a great raft of dreams."
Mary Whipple | New England | 09/24/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Written from 1935 - 1942, but not published until after the author's death, A Touch of the Poet by Eugene O'Neill is the powerfully dramatic story of Con Melody, a tavern-keeper near Boston in 1828. Melody's family in Ireland had managed to rise from their common roots to become, in their own eyes, "gentlemen." When disaster struck and Con Melody lost everything, however, he brought his wife Nora and daughter Sara to the Boston area, where he now runs a shabby tavern while insisting that he is a gentleman and demanding to be treated as one.
Fritz Weaver as Con Melody lives the part in this 1974 production recorded by the Broadway Theater Archive. His arrogance and patronizing attitude toward his common-born wife Nora, whom he adored when they were first married, and his insufferable rudeness toward his daughter Sara are brilliantly highlighted by his drunken rages, his lengthy quotations of Lord Byron, his preening before the mirror, and his refusal to take responsibility for any aspect of his life. Nancy Marchand as Nora is the loyal wife who has given up her church and her self-respect for love of this man. She will do anything, no matter how lowly, to make him happy, yet Marchand somehow manages to make herself a sympathetic figure, despite her willingness to subject herself to his abuse.
Roberta Maxwell, as Sara, the daughter, is the one person in the play who sees things as they really are. Though she loves her mother (and sometimes her father), she is also in love with a young Yankee, a writer from a good family, whom she is nursing to health upstairs at their inn. Like her father, he has "a touch of the poet." His parents, considered gentry by Con, become totally alienated from the Melodys when Con, drunk, attempts to kiss the mother and then challenges the father to a duel. Sara is the one person in the play who takes action and assumes responsibility for her life, and Maxwell endows her with strength and character, despite her youth and seeming innocence.
Weaver dominates the action, which takes place in two rooms of the tavern, always appearing larger than life when compared to the women and the drunken hangers-on who follow him around. At the climax, all the characters recognize new truths, though not necessarily the ones the viewer might expect. A powerful play, brilliantly acted by Weaver, Marchand, and Maxwell, the play remains effective and moving, despite its melodrama and its exaggerated attitudes. n Mary Whipple
Memories for the illusionist
gejome | Oakland CA | 05/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Boston 1828, Eugene O'Neill's play of a proud Irishman, of former nobility, living in his memories the way living was in merry old Europe in years long past. Fritz Weaver(Cornelius Melody) strong willed refuses to allow his wife & daughter to live in the here and now. His independent daughter encounters many verbal skirmishes with Daddy in her attempts to bring him out of his never,never memory lane mind set, without success, while his wife, (Nancy Marchand) condescends to almost a subservient wifely roll, acceding to his every wish and whim, his loyal defender to the end.. When he's off to settle a feud with an opponent by dueling.The plan goes South, no one's injured, and the pround man returns happy with is pride intact. INteresting story and excellent acting. Not quite up to the "Iceman Cometh" nor "Long days Journey into Night", but a film worth viewing and holding."