Picks and Pans Review: Strange Interlude American Playhouse

updated 01/18/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/18/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

PBS (Mon., Jan. 18, 9 p.m. ET)

This ambitious three-part, 4½-hour-long adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's 1928 Pulitzer-prizewinning psychosexual melodrama (Parts II and III will be shown on successive nights) stars Glenda Jackson as Everywoman Nina Leeds, a role she brought to Broadway in 1985. The play's novel monologues—the actors reveal their inner thoughts out loud, oblivious to the other characters—look especially clumsy on TV, where everyone's in close-up. While Jackson pulled off playing the younger Nina onstage, television makes her appear Baby Jane-ish in the earlier scenes. Even so, Jackson gives a tour de force performance that's worth hanging in for. Kenneth Branagh, David Dukes, Ken Howard, Edward Petherbridge, Rosemary Harris and José Ferrer co-star. PS: O'Neill scholars say that it's okay to laugh in parts.

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