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The Iceman Cometh

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  6,615 Ratings  ·  199 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.
Paperback, 142 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Nick Hern Books (first published January 1st 1946)
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Richard Derus
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, <&
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
Mar 04, 2014 Carac Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Jan 20, 2009 Rhonda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 in 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
Feb 16, 2015 Sketchbook rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"O'Neill uses the phrase the big sleep throughout his play as a synonym for death," advises Ray Chandler, "apparently in the belief that it's an accepted underworld expression. If so, I'd like to see whence it comes, because I invented the expression. I never saw the phrase in print before I used it. The tenor of his writing here shows that he knows very little about the subject."

The playwright also bops us over the head with the phrase "pipe dreams." It takes him over four hours to say life i
Jun 15, 2009 Jake rated it it was amazing  ·  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
I have just finished reading this with 2 of my closest friends. The setting was my living room which perhaps felt like the bar in the play, with a few bedrooms upstairs. Oh man, that was so insanely wonderful. Reading out loud and in character is how plays are meant to be read.
On the other note, the play was great. I love dark elements to writing. There was a lot of talk about pipe dreams, which isn't a term I use a lot, I don't even really know what it means. I have come to the conclusion that
Oct 17, 2009 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 19, 2013 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 20, 2012 Franky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
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
May 13, 2013 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, american
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
Tony Romine
Mar 08, 2017 Tony Romine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This play concerns a saloon/rooming house and the alcoholics who live there. They sit around, reminiscing about the better days and their big plans to get their lives started, all of them anxiously awaiting the arrival of Hickey, a salesman who comes by once a year to blow a lot of money on them and throw a birthday party for Harry, the owner of the saloon.

It's a great play and one of the best ever written, in my opinion. The setting, dialogue, and characters might seem a bit dated, but the actu
Dec 06, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: play
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
Jan 11, 2008 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-re-read, drama
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
Feb 20, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatrepieces

Honestly, this play moves me in so many ways that I really want to give it a 5 star rating, except for the fact that in many cases it is dreadfully, irredeemably overwritten.

I tried to watch the movie which could boast of having Jason Robards and Robert Redford in it, but I got bored to death after the first 45 mins or so. I hate to say it but this one seems to be much much better when read privately rather than performed.

No slight to O'Neill, at least in terms of his writing (it could have bee
Aug 18, 2013 Petra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stuff 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
Mar 01, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 25, 2008 Siobhan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 27, 2008 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hate Eugene O'Neill's writing style. His dialogue is so stilted, it's impossible to believe it. However, his plotlines are smart, and I like the charcters he creates, particularly here.
Jun 09, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Laure Porché
Oct 27, 2014 Laure Porché rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Yihui Yeo
Feb 21, 2016 Yihui Yeo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You think you know dark? THINK AGAIN. You think you know hopelessness? THINK AGAIN. You think you know depressing? THINK AGAIN.
Robert Peterson
Feb 01, 2017 Robert Peterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James Meyer
Jun 09, 2017 James Meyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good. I saw the play at BAM. Like 5 hours long. Was way in the back. It was very good. Though, I can't say I could tell you what it was exactly about. So I decided to read it to see what I was missing. I was missing a lot. Actually, some things I might have missed or just forgot that it happened. But I am glad that I read it because. Ow I have a clearer idea what the play is about and what exactly happens in it. For example, I remember clearly the way Parritt would always speak to Larry as ...more
May 29, 2017 Drew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, found
There's something not quite psychologically sound in this O'Neill epic about a barroom of drunks forced to give up their pipe dreams by a glad-handing salesman who has a dark secret of his own but the playwright's scope is so wide and his ambition so great that I still admired the work even if I had to constantly make concessions regarding motivations and reactions. I don't doubt that O'Neill knows the pull of liquor but you feel his presence like the hand of God pushing characters from one scen ...more
Laura Stroebel
Jul 13, 2017 Laura Stroebel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing play - constantly there are these emotional ups and downs. The things people say to one another, so hurtful, then a shared drink, and all if forgiven - or is it? A sad, amazing and memorable play- set (supposedly) in New London's Dutch Tavern, which is 20 minutes from my home. What happens when your are stripped of your dreams and forced to live in reality? Can anyone be happy with just the here and now?
Aug 24, 2013 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Eugene O'Neill is one of those famous playwrights most people have heard of but probably have not had the opportunity to read or see one of his plays. With such titles as The Iceman Cometh and Long's Day Journey Into Night, it's tough to decipher what exactly the background is or plot. My experience with The Iceman Cometh was a joke in The Producers.

The title seemed fantastical of sorts. The Iceman? Is that like The Abominable Snowman? Does this play take place in the North Pole? (S
Jun 01, 2017 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Paperback script.

People live, go onto hope, lose faith, drink, then perish. Play on repeat.
This was a SLOG. I think it was interesting, but it was a lot of period slang AND a lot of dialect and I just...didn't really like it. I'm going to read some about it, though, and see if I can't find something more interesting than the play itself. The last act was definitely the best, which is mostly because it's the only one where anything happens.
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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
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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.” 25 likes
“God damn you, stop shoving your rotten soul in my lap!” 6 likes
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