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Monday, 6 November, 2000, 13:47 GMT
Lange returns to West End
Jessica Lange
Lange plays an opium addict in O'Neill's play
Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Jessica Lange returns to London's West End stage this week in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night.

The play previews at the Lyric Theatre from Wednesday before the official opening on 21 November.

It marks Lange's return to the West End stage following her success in 1996 with A Streetcar Named Desire.

Lange, who recently starred in the movie Titus - an adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus - stars alongside British actor Charles Dance in O'Neill's 1941 play.

Based on O'Neill's own experiences, it tells a torrid story of family life in America, combining youthful hope, first failure, the turmoil of middle-age and decline into old age.

Charles Dance
Charles Dance plays Lange's husband

Lange has won two Oscars for her roles in movies Tootsie and Blue Sky.

In Blue Sky she played a promiscuous and disturbed army wife.

Before that, she famously played other tormented women including Patsy Kline in Sweet Dreams and the alcoholic Frances Farmer - for which she was also nominated for an Academy Award in 1983.

Depressed

In Long Day's Journey into Night, Lange takes on a similar role as the opium-addicted mother Mary Tyrone.

Dance - best known for his roles in the films Plenty and White Mischief - plays her husband, a penny-pinching actor who also has to confront the addiction of one of his sons.

Ella O'Neill
Ella O'Neill became addicted to morphine

The play is based on O'Neill's own unstable early life during which he travelled constantly with his parents.

O'Neill was one of three sons - of which one had died - but his birth had been difficult. It left his mother Ella in pain and severely depressed.

A doctor - one of O'Neill's actor father James' drinking companions - gave her morphine. It lead to an addiction that she managed to hide from her husband for a long time.

Completed in 1941, the play cut so close to the bone that O'Neill requested it not be looked at for at least 25 years after his death in 1953.

But his widow went against his instructions and published it in 1955.

It was first produced the following year in New York, winning O'Neill a posthumous Pulitzer Prize - his fourth.

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