Who knew Eugene O’Neill was such a cutup?
The famously tragic playwright garners loads of laughs in Howard Davies’ stirring revival of A Moon for the Misbegotten — largely thanks to Kevin Spacey, yukking it up as the perpetually pickled antihero. At first, his hammy, warp-speed take on Jim Tyrone seems almost sacrilegious. Yet Spacey is so eerily right for the role: He has the precise ”soft and soggy” physique, ”Mephistophelian quality,” and ”habitually cynical expression” O’Neill prescribed. And this Moon certainly doesn’t lack drama. The comedy merely masks the debilitating pain and bone-rattling grief that lie beneath.
Jim is well on his way to an alcohol-induced death, but before he staggers into the great beyond, he stops for some booze and banter with the Hogans: crusty old farmer Phil (Colm Meaney) and daughter Josie (Eve Best), an awkward virgin masquerading as a tart-tongued wanton. Best, with her cut-glass cheekbones and lively eyes, is almost too beautiful to play this ”ugly overgrown lump of a woman.” Yet she endows Josie with an earthy sexiness, and her connection with Spacey is both playful and profound. She’s the savior to his lost soul, the mother to his child, and, ultimately, the straight man to his joker. (Tickets: 212-307-4100) A-