Spellbinding--soaring theater--. For reasons that remain mysterious, it seems especially moving today. --The New York Times 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. The pipe-dreaming drunks of Harry Hope's bar numb themselves with rotgut gin and make grandiose plans, while waiting for the annual appearance of the big-spending, fast-talking salesman, Hickey. But this year's visit fails to bring the expected good times, as a changed Hickey tries to rouse the barflies from their soothing stupor with a proselytizing message of salvation through self-kwledge. Considered by many to be the Nobel Prize-winning playwright's finest work, The Iceman Cometh exposes the human need for illusion as an antidote to despair. The recent gripping, critically acclaimed Broadway production, starring Kevin Spacey, has highlighted anew the subversive genius of O'Neill's play.
Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953), the author of 49 plays, won four Pulitzer Prizes for drama, and is the only American playwright to have received a Nobel Prize.