The Great God Brown
- Eugene O'Neill's expressionist play, which opened at the Greenwich Village Theatre on 23 January 1926, ran for 271 performances despite the bafflement of some critics and audiences over O'Neill's use of masks, which were employed to display the dual natures of his characters. Two young men, William A. Brown and Dion Anthony, are the sons of business partners and wear masks displaying appealing personas. A young woman, Margaret, attracts the attention of both men, but she is drawn to Dion's gentle, sensitive mask. He has rejected business to become an artist, but when they find themselves in a moment of passion, Dion removes his mask, revealing a darker persona underneath. Margaret is appalled and Dion dies in grief. She marries Brown after he takes up Dion's sensitive mask, but he too dies as a result of denying his true persona, finding his only comfort with Cybel, a prostitute. Years after the death of both men, Margaret remains true to Dion's idealistic mask. At the time, O'Neill considered The Great God Brown his finest work, but it had few revivals. Its first revival on Broadway was an unsuccessful 1959 production featuring Fritz Weaver.* A 1972 Phoenix Repertory* production won critical approval.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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