Last season, director Marianne Savell staged a King Lear for this company edited so severely, it played as a series of excerpts. Here, with Eugene O'Neill's agonizing autobiographical masterwork, she takes the opposite tack, fearlessly rolling out in almost four hours what's probably the first scrutinizing study of chemical addiction. Though it suffers at times from twinges of melodrama in the acting, this very intimate production is as smart as it is scrupulous. The four members of the 1912 Tyrone family slowly disentangle en route to their own private oblivion. The terrific ensemble includes Bruce Ladd as the proud Irish-American "cheapskate" patriarch — a former stage actor turned land baron — skimping on the sanitorium for his dying son (Daniel J. Roberts), while the prodigal son (David Scales) surrenders his ambitions to whiskey and hookers, and their mother, Mary Tyrone (Nan McNamara), returns to an old morphine habit. "None of us can help the things life has done to us. They're done before you realize it, and once they're done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you'd like to be, and you've lost your true self forever," says Mary. These are people who love and loathe each other in the same breath, and the manifestation of that contradiction gives this production its veracity and languishing beauty. Actors Co-op, Crossley Theatre, 1760 N. Gower St., Hlwyd.; Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. (added perf March 29, 7:30 p.m.); through April 29. (323) 462-8460, ext. 300, actorsco-op.org.
Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., March 29, 7:30 p.m. Starts: March 16. Continues through April 29, 2012