Desire Under the Elms | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Desire Under the Elms

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Eugene O'Neill's 1924 shocker retains its tragic force in the Hypocrites' taut, intelligent revival. Based on the Greek myth of Phaedra and set in 1850s New England, it's the story of a young woman who marries an old farmer and then seduces his son in a bid to take over the farm--a scheme that goes awry when the affair produces a child. Geoff Button's well-crafted staging charts the characters' shifting relationships while illuminating O'Neill's vision of how the human spirit is warped by a lust for land. The production benefits from intense performances by Audrey Francis and Ian Westerfer as the lovers and from Tracy Otwell's atmospheric design, which transforms a low-ceilinged basement studio into a rustic landscape. a Through 11/11: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 PM, Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, 312-409-5578, $20. --Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Paul Mertreyon.

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