Four people, one family: the mother, the father, the two sons stand very close together, hug each other, form a knot of love, intimacy, reliability.

Or is that misleading?

Because soon after, the ensemble dissolves and everyone becomes monads of solitude again.

They are isolated in their biographies and encapsulated in their misery.

The dream of an intact family is actually a nightmare here: the mother became addicted to morphine years ago as a result of mistreatment, the father thinks only of himself, one son drinks, the other has just been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

They have all failed everyone else's expectations, and the fact that Mary has just relapsed after several withdrawals finally finishes them off.

Eugene O'Neill's play A Long Day's Journey into Night, which premiered in 1956, describes a tragic descent whose negative energy sweeps people away and shatters stories.

For his production at Berlin's Schlosspark Theater, director Torsten Fischer dispenses with realistic settings and concentrates entirely on Judith Rosmair as Mary, Peter Kremer as James, Igor Karbus as Jamie's older son and Fabian Stromberger as his younger brother Edmund.

despair and resignation

The dark-lined stage is mostly slightly foggy (the beach isn't far from the house), with just a few simple pieces of furniture scattered about loosely.

The left side, of course, forms a huge wall of mirrors framed by neon tubes (stage and costumes: Herbert Schäfer and Vasilis Triantafillopoulos).

Know thyself, she wants to say, but that hardly gets heard.

Although Mary often looks at it, she always only recognizes her appearance, never the desperation and resignation that hold her in the drug addiction.

In between, the others hide behind the mirror, sneak past it exhaustedly, not risking eye contact.

One secretly eavesdrops and watches one another, in this way undermining the lies with which illness, insidiousness, and grief are supposed to be concealed.

Everyone knows everything about each other

and little by little it will be revealed.

The more whiskey flows, the more shouting, and the more shouting, the less anyone listens.

The great Judith Rosmair lets her Mary dance like a sleepwalker in pain through an environment that she - unlike her husband - was never comfortable with: "I'm so lonely.

I never wanted to live here.” With her vitality and elegance, Rosmair undermines the frailty of this character and thereby emphasizes it in the first place: you can't tell from her the hell she's in.

Mary turns a blind eye to the reality she can only endure if she takes injections regularly, which allows her to face the facts – and then wake up and forget everything.

Sadly end the wrong ways of love

Peter Kremer is a smart guy of a James and sometimes funny in his longing for closeness to the boys, whom he resolutely abuses.

James had the talent to be a great actor, couldn't do anything with it, became a small one.

He has known his wife's problems for too long to concern him seriously.

The sons - "premature, sallow and pale" as it is called in Wagner's Götterdämmerung - have no chance against these parents and they know it well.

Jamie, the thief, dreams of liquor and women, Edmund, the bundle of nerves, of poetry and freedom.

They beat each other up, and most of all they want to hurt themselves.

They struggle to keep their composure and yet know that they cannot help either father or mother.

Torsten Fischer stages this family hell as solid narrative theater with a cleverly concise text version.

The gripping, condensed performance lasts two hours, which unspectacularly but movingly points to a wound that no torrent of words, no medication, no emotion and no money can heal: the wrong turns of love end sadly, on which the four like unredeemed ghosts from the real escape from the world.

His autobiographical play was written with "blood and tears born of early pain," O'Neill said.

Here you can hear and see that, and also that it still concerns us.