The Great God Brown
A demonstration of O'Neill's expressionistic experimentation with masks to emphasise the distinction between characters, and the lack of understanding in human relationships.
Dion Anthony is joyful, sensual, and creative – on the outside, but when he removes his mask to reveal his haunted loneliness, his wife Margaret ceases to love or understand him. Dion's best friend, William Brown, has always admired Dion's capacity for giving and receiving love, especially Margaret's. Now Brown's need to protect has become a need to possess, and so when Dion dies Brown assumes his mask, his family and his wife. But to really become Dion Anthony, Brown has to kill William Brown – the William Brown beneath the mask.
Eugene O'Neill's play The Great God Brown was first performed at Greenwich Village Theater, New York, in January 1926. Its UK premiere was at the Festival Theatre, Cambridge, in 1932, and it was later performed at Westminster Theatre, London, in December 1938.
Also by Eugene O'Neill: