Desire Under The Elms by Eugene O'Neill by Eugene O'Neill

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Synopsis

Eben Cabot s future seemed assured when his mother, on her deathbed, secured her husband Ephraim s word that he would leave his fortune to her son. Ephraim gave his word, but the promise came at a price. Two sons from a previous marriage were cut out, making life in the Cabot household miserable while his dispossessed progeny hoped for a change of heart. But, when Ephraim brings home a new wife, Abbie, any plans Eben and his stepbrothers might have had for a carefree future grow dim. The brothers decide to depart for greener pastures; Eben s choice is to stay and fight for what is his. Abbie, however, only entered into the marriage looking to secure a livelihood of her own, and there is no room for Eben in her financial planning. Never loving Ephraim, she cynically begins an affair with Eben to undercut his opposition...and the two enemies find themselves in love. Soon after, she bears Eben s child. To prove she would never love anyone more than Eben, she hatches a plan leading to a tragic conclusion, worthy only of the ancient Greeks.
 

About Eugene O'Neill

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Eugene O'Neill was born in New York City on October 16, 1888, the son of popular actors James O'Neill and Ellen Quinlan. As a young child, he frequently went on tour with his father and later attended a Catholic boarding school and a private preparatory school. He entered Princeton University but stayed for only a year. He took a variety of jobs, including prospecting for gold, shipping out as a merchant sailor, joining his father on the stage, and writing for newspapers. In 1912, he was hospitalized for tuberculosis and emotional exhaustion. While recovering, he read a great deal of dramatic literature and, after his release from the sanitarium, began writing plays. O'Neill got his theatrical start with a group known as the Provincetown Players, a company of actors, writers, and other theatrical newcomers, many of whom went on to achieve commercial and critical success. His first plays were one-act works for this group, works that combined realism with experimental forms. O'Neill's first commercial successes, Beyond the Horizon (1920) and Anna Christie (1921) were traditional realistic plays. Anna Christie is still frequently performed. It is the story of a young woman, Anna, whose hard life has led her to become a prostitute. Anna comes to live with her long-lost father, who is unaware of her past, and she falls in love with a sailor, who is also unaware. When Anna finds the two men fighting over her as though she were property, she is so angry and disgusted that she insists on telling them the truth. The man she loves rejects her at first, but then later returns to marry her. Soon O'Neill began to experiment more, and over the next 12 years used a wide variety of unusual techniques, settings, and dramatic devices. It is no exaggeration to say that, virtually on his own, O'Neill created a tradition of serious American theater. His influence on the playwrights who followed him has been enormous, and much of what is taken today for granted in modern American theater originated with O'Neill. A major legacy has been the nine plays he wrote between 1924 and 1931, tragedies that made heavy use of the new Freudian psychology just coming into fashion. His one comedy, Ah, Wilderness (1933), was the basis for the musical comedy, Oklahoma!, itself a groundbreaking event in American theater. O'Neill later began to write the intense, brooding, and highly autobiographical plays that are now considered to his best work. The Iceman Cometh (1946) is set in a bar in Manhattan's Bowery, or skid-row district. In the course of the play, a group of apparently happy men are forced to recognize the true emptiness of their lives. In A Long Day's Journey into Night (1956), O'Neill examines his own family and their tormented lives, a subject he continues in A Moon for the Misbegotten (1957). O'Neill's work was highly honored. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1936 and Pulitzer Prizes for Anna Christie, Beyond the Horizon, Strange Interlude (1928), and A Long Day's Journey Into Night, which also received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. O'Neill died in Room 401 of the Sheraton Hotel on Bay State Road in Boston, on November 27, 1953, at the age of 65. He was also born in a hotel room in Times Square, NYC.
 
Published March 1, 2010 by D'arts Publishing. 58 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Desire Under The Elms by Eugene O'Neill

BC Books

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A Noise Within, now located in the beautiful new facility in Pasadena, is giving us a chance to see the rarely produced Desire Under The Elms by Eugene O’Neill.

Dec 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Desire Under The Elms by Euge...

Entertainment Weekly

Director Robert Falls' innovative staging of Desire Under the Elms, a 1924 drama about a family of squabbling farmers, isn't your typical Eugene O'Neill.

Feb 04 2009 | Read Full Review of Desire Under The Elms by Euge...

Entertainment Weekly

Schreiber, however, simply isn't up to the immense challenges of the mother-loving Eben: The boy despises Ephraim for working his mom to death and stealing her farm, he lusts after Abbie, he resents Abbie for taking his mom's place — there's a fine line between love and hate, but it's nowhere to ...

Apr 28 2009 | Read Full Review of Desire Under The Elms by Euge...

The Telegraph

That’s not helped by the design here, which takes an axe to O’Neill’s stipulation that elm branches over-hang the action “with a crushing, jealous absorption”, and instead supplies lacklustre projected video along with too much in-the-round space for the cast to be lost in.

Sep 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Desire Under The Elms by Euge...

The Telegraph

When the two trucks are jammed side by side and Eben (wonderful Morgan Watkins) is seen listening at the wall of his father’s room – where Ephraim is in bed with his new young wife, Abbie – the sexual tension feels fit to explode.

Oct 10 2012 | Read Full Review of Desire Under The Elms by Euge...

Huffington Post

Back in the early part of the 20th century, Eugene O'Neill brought a weight and importance to American theatre which had been sorely lacking.

Nov 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Desire Under The Elms by Euge...

PopMatters

Abbie gives birth to a son that Ephraim never suspects is not is own, going so far as to celebrate the birth by informing Eben that any inheritance he may have received has been transferred to the new baby and strongly suggesting Eben join Simeon and Peter in California – seek fortune and birthri...

Feb 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Desire Under The Elms by Euge...

Austin Chronicle

"You are feeling as cold as the emotional landscape of this play," a wisecracking actor announced during one of the two intermissions for desire.

Dec 03 1999 | Read Full Review of Desire Under The Elms by Euge...

LA Times

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It’s appropriate that A Noise Within’s second offering in its new Pasadena facility should be Eugene O’Neill’s “Desire Under the Elms.” Like the boulder-strewn farm in the play, which has only been rendered tillable by Herculean human toil, the producers at A Noise Within had to navigate a rocky...

Nov 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Desire Under The Elms by Euge...

Project MUSE

I don't believe I have read another critic or biographer of O'Neill who is quite as determined as Diggins to see this as O'Neill's worldview, the philosophy of life that shaped his plays.

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Artswrap

Desire Under the Elms - review Stage Susannah Clapp The Guardian Read other users' reviews Desire Under the Elms, Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, review Drama Laura Thompson Telegraph Read other users' review...

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Splash Magazine

More than 100 artists from six theater companies around the world bring their highly contemporary, innovative interpretations of O'Neill's dramas to the Goodman's Exploration-viewing the 20th century "father of the American drama," through a 21st century international lens.

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The Upcoming.

Desire Under The Elms plays until the 10th November 2012 Ephraim returns with new wife Abbie, played by an exquisite Denise Gough whose small frame is overpowered by her defined vocal quality and power.

Oct 09 2012 | Read Full Review of Desire Under The Elms by Euge...

TheaterMania

Abbie and Eben hold their initial shared gaze for long, wordless seconds -- to notify spectators that lust-at-first-sight has struck meteor-like -- but it's one of the few moments throughout the 100-minute play when he doesn't insist the characters yell out of rage or sheer spite.

Apr 27 2009 | Read Full Review of Desire Under The Elms by Euge...

https://muse.jhu.edu

In Eugene O’Neill’s America: Desire Under Democracy, historian John Patrick Diggins begins with an engaging introduction set at the end of O’Neill’s career, as The Iceman Cometh opens to an unenthusiastic response on Broadway in late 1946.

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