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The Layered Poetry of “The Hairy Ape”

I hadn’t looked at Eugene O’Neill’s 1922 play, “The Hairy Ape,” in many years before I picked it up again recently, on the occasion of Richard Jones’s interpretation of the work for the Park Avenue Armory (March 25-April 22). The standout actor Bobby Cannavale stars as Robert (Yank) Smith, a physically imposing stevedore on an ocean liner that’s headed for New York. Yank is a “primitive” who grew up tough—his father beat him as a kid—but he doesn’t dwell on the pain of the past; what matters to Yank is today.
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