Dat mag je best van me weten is my Dutch version of the final part of Eugene O’Neill’s classical family drama A long day’s journey into night in which everything that has been repressed in the Tyrone family is revealed and a chaos erupts from which nobody is spared.
A FAMILY THAT WORKS
A long days journey into night by Eugene O’Neill was written in 1942 and was so autobiographical that O’Neill asked to publish it only after his death. The play is an oppressive family portrait of four people, each of whom has gotten stuck in their life on their own way and they cannot solve it together.
It paints a strongly negative image of a family in which parents and their two sons accuse, bully and push each other to the limit – traits often accompanied by pathetic and self-destructive attempts at affection, encouragement, tenderness, and a desire for a better life. The pain of this family is exacerbated by their profound self-understanding and self-analysis, combined with brutal honesty and the ability to express themselves strongly. The story is about the addiction of mother Mary to morphine, the addiction to whiskey of the whole family, the stinginess of father James, the debauchery of the older brother Jamie and the disease of the younger brother Edmund.
THE NEGLECT OF LOVE
In my Long day’s journey into night, called Dat mag je best van me weten, I want to sketch the Tyrone family as they are in all their insanity. I want to show the idiocy of the situation and what effect it has on the people who live in it, so that it emphasises the importance of love, connection and humanity. For me, it feels incredibly topical. In our society of strivers and materialistic seekers of happiness, people try to make it in their lives. But when they get blinded by their empty ambition, they find out that they have neglected the only thing that could have kept them going, and that was love.
The once so close entanglement of a young family has become a noose after decay. The apparent light of ambition is replaced by gravity and meaninglessness, and in the midst of all that misery the evil of disease, addiction and anesthesia appears. By showing a family who are bothering themselves and each other, still love, though cannot express it, I want to show the importance of love. Society-wide, expressing love is also not an unconditional fact. It is no longer a priority. I want to show the importance of love in a society that no longer preserves it.
Dat mag je best van me weten could be seen at the end of June 2019 at the Toneelacademie Maastricht. It was played by Max Gruson and Britt Buntenbach. With special thanks to Joost Horward.