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The Iceman Cometh

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  5,169 ratings  ·  140 reviews
Into a waterfront bar, full of life's failures, subsisting solely on their dreams, comes Hickey with his urge to make them face the truth. This play, first staged in 1946, is written by the author of Anna Christie and Strange Interlude, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936.
Published June 1st 2005 by Nick Hern Books (first published 1946)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: get real. It's a play.

The Publisher Says: Eugene O’Neill was the first American playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. He completed The Iceman Cometh in 1939, but he delayed production until after the war, when it enjoyed a long run of performances in 1946 after receiving mixed reviews. Three years after O'Neill's death, Jason Robards starred in a Broadway revival that brought new critical attention to O’Neill’s darkest and most nihilistic play. In the half century since, <>The
Ken Moten
I'm afraid to live, am I?--and even more afraid to die! So I sit here, with my pride drowned on the bottom of a bottle, keeping drunk so I won't see myself shaking in my britches with fright, or hear myself whining and praying: Beloved Christ, let me live a little longer at any price! If it's only for a few days more, or a few hours even, have mercy, Almighty God, and let me still clutch greedily to my yellow heart this sweet treasure, this jewel beyond price, the dirty, stinking bit of withered ...more
Carac Allison

I enjoy going to the theater. I always have. But unless you live in New York or Toronto or Los Angeles and have unlimited money and endless free evenings you just can't see that many of the great plays in a lifetime. This simple fact is why I started reading plays and why I know that plays are meant to be read as well as performed.

No American drama supports this assertion more than "The Iceman Cometh". It has a huge cast and goes on for hours and hours. It has had some memorable productions, mos
Eugene O'Neill is America's finest playwright. You may argue that Miller or Inge or Capote have this or that or anything else, but no one put everything together is such a classic manner as O’Neill. To read or watch an O’Neill play is properly a life altering experience. Very often, as with the present work, it ought to leave one’s life in shambles, the veritable house of cards you always knew it was but hoped no one else would notice.

The Iceman Cometh is a tragedy, but one in which you find you
Aug 08, 2009 Jake rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pipedreamers
Shelves: drama
"To hell with the truth! As the history of the world proves, the truth has no bearing on anything." -Larry, The Iceman Cometh Act One.

The first time I picked this play up, I had a feeling I was going to really enjoy it. Well, "enjoy" is probably the wrong word to use, even as I am a now twice-read, twice-seen, fan of this Eugene O'Neill play. Other words like "appreciate" and "identify with" come to mind. It's a hard play to digest.

Americans occasionally give great playwrights permission to be l
A genius study in how we make excuses for ourselves, how some fear success. A brilliant field report from the land of the fallen (us), the sin-a-holics. O'Neill shows us that, contrary to Socrates and Plato, ignorance is not the root of all evil. People usually know what the right thing to do is and still do the wrong thing anyway. In this play, everyone is suicidal, everyone is masochistic and constantly does things to make their lives either shorter or more miserable. No one makes the right ca ...more
How jaded must I be? Chronic, neighborhood violence, damn! What kind of civilization cultivates a man that can read The Iceman Cometh and contemptuously think, ‘murder, that’s it; confessed and taken away?, 3-stars?’

Use an RSS feed for your local news, watch the impresarios of late night comedy, see the plea deals that defile our legal system—you’ll know common, felony violence perpetrated across class, gender and age for senseless reasons that cheapen lives. It’s from this post-post-
Carol Storm
I loved this play so much as a teenager, and I don't know why. I liked the way Hickey could pass himself off as a regular guy, always smiling and joking, while inside he was crazy with hatred. I think because I had a lot of anger myself I liked the idea that you could be angry and still "get away with it." Of course in the end Hickey falls apart but he's so much more heroic and tragic than a total failure like Willy Loman.

Another thing I really loved about this play was how young Parrit hates h
The Iceman Cometh is noted for its dark realism; its setting and characters closely
resemble real life. The world of the play is a cruel place. Despair is a constant presence,
love only an illusion, and death something to which one looks forward. Relief comes in
alcohol and pipe dreams—groundless hopes for a future that will never arrive.

The play seems too dark and despairing to bear but stay with it ... It doesn't get any less depressing but there is much interesting philosophy along the journe
Welcome to Harry’s bar, filled to the brim with desolate, disillusioned patrons clinging to their pipe dreams, their hopes that tomorrow, after all, will be another day.

The play opens with the patrons sitting around in a drunken stupor. We are introduced to the various types: Rocky, the bartender; Larry Slade, the protagonist who has given up on his pipe dream and awaits his exit from life; Parritt, a rebel anarchist; Willie, a failed law student; Harry Hope, proprietor of the bar; Watjoen and
This is one of the richest plays, symbolically, of modern American theater. But like most if not all O'Neill plays, it is as interesting to read as it is to see on the stage. Lots of other plays of this era that are heavy on symbolism rely on the visual cues of the production to bring the meaning through, and therefore can seem remote and boring when reading them. (Unless you're a director perhaps, and particularly trained to read plays with an inner eye for staging them.) O'Neill really uses th ...more
This sad saga chronicles a group of drunks who meet up at a local saloon. They are full of big dreams for the future, but anyone who knows them knows that they are all talk and no action. Each man has glossed over the story of his life in his own mind, leaving out the bad bits and chalk any failures up to someone else’s fault or a tragedy that befell him.

The patrons look up to a salesman named Hickman ("Hickey") who stops in when he can. During the first half of the play everyone gathers at the
Petra about despair! It's in every movement of this play.
Harry's bar & rooming house is the last stop for a rag-tag group of alcoholics. There's nowhere for them to go; they've reached rock bottom. As we hear of each of their pasts, it's so sad to know that their lives once held promise and it slipped away.
Along comes Hickey who tries to show them that they can break out of their pattern, return to their old lives. He tries to give them hope. But, even as they try, it's hopeless. How
Four or five, five or four...I went back and forth for awhile and finally came to a decision. I was worried it'd be all that I couldn't stand in a play - too many characters, overly predictable, far too fast-paced...and I'd have been sad, but O'Neill does not disappoint. The characters were all clear, the New York accent was well-written and not overly distracting, the set is clear and I can easily picture it all. It's actually quite motivational, as well as being very depressing. Odd juxtap
Alex Sarll
I've not sat down to read a play I didn't know in a long time, so maybe that's part of the problem, but this is poor. Perhaps at the time it seemed new and strange - but now it just feels like the grandfather of every clunking moment-of-truth modern play that every dramatist who ever thought Chekhov made it look easy wrote for every actor who wanted a showcase for their mighty skills. If Arthur Miller had a brother who'd had to make every point with a sledgehammer, who had never heard the phrase ...more
"What's it matter if the truth is that their favoring breeze has the stink of nickel whiskey on its breath, and their sea is a growler of lager and ale, and their ships are long since looted and scuttled and sunk on the bottom?" (Larry, 12)

"But I didn't mean booze. I meant save you from pipe dreams. I know now, from my experience, they're the things that really poison and ruin a guy's life and keep him from finding any peace. ... Just the old dope of honesty is the best policy -- honesty with yo
The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neil

To my surprise, I have just learned that The Iceman Cometh is appreciated by critics as one of the greatest plays of American Theatre. Not that I did not enjoy it, but had not heard of it, which is not saying all that much and had decided to listen to it, because George Constantin had a role in it.
As part of my reading and listening plan, plays in which our greatest actor had a role are advancing to the top of the list.
He was -and is in recordings- so great, tha
This is the first O'Neill play I've read, which is a shame being that he did much of his work in my hometown and we share a birthday. But I digress...
The Iceman Cometh is depressing, resonant, and sadly realistic and relatable. The only thing that made me not give it five stars is that the dialogs can get pretty tired and unnatural feeling. Everyone responding to things in chorus is symbolic, but is unnecessary and becomes overused.
Isn't January the best time to read something from Eugene O'Neill? You know, all those deep and dark thoughts while it's gloomy and grey out and one turns to the bottle of whiskey wine hot chocolate to see you through the doldrums of winter.

Thank goodness it's short because a little of O'Neill's gloom goes a long ways.

You know, I don't think I would have caught much of the message if I had watched it as a play. The dialogue is everything--there's really no action and it's the same set througho
Valente Babb
What makes this play so great is the fact that it captures a piece of life within the confines of a bar in the 1910s. The characters all represent something, but the biggest draw that they have to them is that they are all also realistic people with realistic problems and unrealistic dreams.

The plot is straight forward and throws you for a loop a few times throughout. I loved how each character is given different traits and different aspirations towards life.

I recommend for those who love good
Jan 02, 2015 Alex rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: drunks, murderous drunks, anarchist drunks, drunken pimps, toits
It's all in de game. (Cora, Act V)

It's all in the game.

All in the game, yo.
Really interesting play that I suspect I would enjoy seeing more than I necessarily enjoyed reading. There was some very good character development here but sometimes the lengthy stage descriptions and monologues had me thinking that O'Neill actually wanted to be a novelist.

Plotwise, I wish Larry had played a bigger role. I feel like his story and dynamic with Hickey deserved a bit more time. I think some of this time could have been gained by having fewer characters. Basically between Mosher, M
Don Incognito
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
William West
It's a really, really, really good piece of work. Not, and I know even saying this is iconoclastic to some degree, a great piece of work.

Okay, I'm a film guy. I have an MFA in Cinema Studies. As such, I'm distrustful of theater after 1930. What can it do that film can't do better? And if film can't do it better, is it a good idea? I admit, then, that I dislike most plays after 1930, with the exception of "experimental" stuff like Beckett's short works- such as "Krapp's Last Tape". I do have a p
'Iceman' is quintessential Eugene O'Neill and is not only of one his best plays but also one of the most powerful and memorable pieces of American Drama ever. A group of destitute boozehounds decay in the shanty boarding house/bar combination ran by ne'er do well proprietor Harry Hope. Each character entertains their own pipedreams and half-truths, nostalgically glorifying their often mundane pasts and faded accomplishments while exhibiting the best of intentions for the possibilities the ever u ...more
Eugene O’Neill may be one of America’s best tragic writers, and tragedy is something American audiences respond to well, even as far back as the 1930’s, when this play was written, and the 1940’s, when this play was produced for the first time onstage. A good writer will tell a story that can fit any decade, and writing from the 21st century, the message, isssues and topics covered in the play are just as relevant now as they were 80-90 years ago.
This play, written in four acts as opposed to a
Jessica Barkl
This is a play that I'm planning on directing at Washington State Penitentiary in Winter Quarter. I was reading it again to see if it would work. I still have a lot to do to see if I can cut it (and to see if the O'Neill Foundation will approve those cuts). The play runs 4 hours, but it will be amazing for the guys. I directed WAITING FOR GODOT with them last year, and I think this will be a great companion piece to that exploration. WAITING provided them a platform to show an audience what it i ...more
Harry Hope's saloon and rooming house is the last stop for a group of alcoholic has-beens: each cast member's description begins with the words "one-time" - policeman, journalist, Harvard alumnus, anarchist. Though their backgrounds are diverse, they are all poised on the edge of a common destination - the pipe dream, the anticipated future and change that they don't quite have to fortitude to enact.

Tomorrow will be the day when amazing things will occur: the man that hasn't left the building in
The bar/lodging house is filled with residents who live only on alcohol and pipe dreams, reminiscing about their pasts and building castles in the sky about what they will do tomorrow. They await the arrival of Hickey, a traveling salesman who twice a year comes to them for a binge, treating them all to endless drinks. He arrives and treats them as usual but himself has given up alcohol, claiming that he has relinquished his own pipe dreams and found “peace,” although he has no objection to thei ...more
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Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright who won the 1936 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy." More than any other dramatist, O'Neill introduced American drama to the dramatic realism pioneered by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish playwr ...more
More about Eugene O'Neill...
Long Day's Journey Into Night Mourning Becomes Electra A Moon for the Misbegotten Three Plays: Desire Under the Elms / Strange Interlude / Mourning Becomes Electra The Emperor Jones

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“To hell with the truth! As the history of the world proves, the truth has no bearing on anything. It's irrelevant and immaterial, as the lawyers say. The lie of a pipe dream is what gives life to the whole misbegotten mad lot of us, drunk or sober.” 13 likes
“You can't be too careful about work. It's the most dangerous habit known to medical science.” 3 likes
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