Old man Ephraim Cabot returns to his remote New England farm with his third wife, the young, alluring, headstrong Abbie. Battling to control the farm he believes is his, Eben the youngest of three brothers begins a passionate and dangerous affair with his father’s new wife. In time, he and the young wife come to love each other with tragic consequences.
O’Neill described his play as “a tragedy of the possessive – the pitiful longing of man to build his own heaven here on earth by glutting his sense of power with ownership of the land, people, money – but principally the land and other people’s lives.”
First produced in 1924, Desire Under the Elms invokes the playwright’s own family conflicts and Freudian treatment of sexual themes. The play draws from Euripides’ Hippolytus and Jean Racine’s Phèdre, both which feature a father returning home with a new wife, who falls in love with her stepson.
Considered a classic of 20th-century American drama, the play caused outrage when it first opened for its treatment of infanticide, alcoholism, vengeance, and incest. The play was banned in Boston and refused a license in England until 1940, the first Los Angeles cast was arrested in 1925, and tried in court for performing in an obscene play.
“In our present climate we struggle to conserve and share, Eugene O’Neill’s masterpiece remains perpetually relevant, and helps us close the abyss between ancient moral dilemmas and the modern world,” says producer and director Andrei Schiller-Chan.
Director: Andrei Schiller-Chan Featuring: Diana Brumen, Garikai Jani, Sam Lavery, Darren Mort, Timothy Smith First Assistant Director: Dianne Algate Costume Design/Props Dresser: Kim Ritchie Production Designer: Hahna Read Sound Designer: Paul Raine Lighting Design: Travis Macfarlane Stage Manager: Jeffrey Miceli
“Utterly riveting, from first long look to turbulent, animalistic embraces to grim march toward retribution.” – New York Times
Desire Under the Elms’
Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Season: 7 – 24 July 2016
Information and Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au