DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews

LimelightMike Profile PhotoLimelightMike Profile Photo
LimelightMike
Broadway Legend
joined:6/21/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/21/06
DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#1
Posted: 4/27/09 at 1:49am
Today is Monday, April 27th, marking the official opening of The Goodman Theatre's new production of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms, playing the St. James Theatre, having begun preview performances on April 14.

Robert Falls and stars Brian Dennehy, Carla Gugino and Pablo Schreiber are reunited onstage after its initial run in Chicago. The mounting also features Boris McGiver and Daniel Stewart Sherman.

The story, according to press notes, revolves around "a love triangle between an aging farmer, Ephraim Cabot (Dennehy), his young wife, Abbie (Gugino), and his son, Eben (Pablo Schreiber), that does not end happily." Performances run through July 5.

Break legs, all!

Best to all involved. DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews





Updated On: 4/27/09 at 01:49 AM
Amneris Profile PhotoAmneris Profile Photo
Amneris
Broadway Legend
joined:5/16/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/16/03
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#2
Posted: 4/27/09 at 7:18am
I saw it and loved it. I fell in love with Carla Cugino's performance. I guess we never got to see that side of her really on screen. I hope this show does well.
WiCkEDrOcKS Profile PhotoWiCkEDrOcKS Profile Photo
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/13/04
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#2
Posted: 4/27/09 at 7:42am
Wow, so many openings in late April!

Best of luck to everyone involved; I wasn't in love with the production but was never bored and completely appreciated Gugino's performance. If nothing else, I hope she gets the raves she deserves.
Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
cglaid Profile Photocglaid Profile Photo
cglaid
Broadway Star
joined:6/8/08
Broadway Star
joined:
6/8/08
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#3
Posted: 4/27/09 at 7:52am
I saw this production yesterday. It was so intense and I wanted to offer Carla a shot afterwards. I don't know how she does it. She is a lovely person as well. It was Pablo Schreiber's birthday yesterday, so happy birthday :)
Morgaine885
Featured Actor
joined:4/4/06
Featured Actor
joined:
4/4/06
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#4
Posted: 4/27/09 at 12:32pm
Break a leg, Desire Under the Elms!

And Happy Birthday, Mr. Schreiber!!!
Mr Roxy Profile PhotoMr Roxy Profile Photo
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/17/03
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#5
Posted: 4/27/09 at 6:45pm
Great show & the best acting in it is by Gugino

She deserves the Tony.
Poster Emeritus
BustopherPhantom Profile PhotoBustopherPhantom Profile Photo
BustopherPhantom
Broadway Legend
joined:8/31/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/31/06
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#6
Posted: 4/27/09 at 7:05pm
Variety is Mixed:

"Nobody could accuse Robert Falls of taking the safe route with "Desire Under the Elms." As in Simon McBurney's "All My Sons" revival earlier this season, the director layers on bold auteurial flourishes in a stylized bid to fire up the molten Greek tragedy in a naturalistic American drama. And as with that production, responses will range from rejection to rapture. Transferring from Chicago's Goodman Theater, where it was the centerpiece of a Eugene O'Neill festival, the staging is grimly overwrought, with an intensity that never quite translates into emotional impact, yet its unyielding harshness is undeniably compelling."

http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117940138.html?categoryid=33&cs=1
"Y'know, I think Bertolt Brecht was rolling in his grave."
-Nellie McKay on the 2006 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, in which she played Polly Peachum
luvtheEmcee Profile PhotoluvtheEmcee Profile Photo
luvtheEmcee
Broadway Legend
joined:12/9/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/9/03
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#7
Posted: 4/27/09 at 7:09pm
When (if) I start working professionally, I'm going to make sure to get my reviews up by midnight just for you, Limelight Mike, so you'll actually have reason to post these threads over twelve hours too early.
A work of art is an invitation to love.
James2 Profile PhotoJames2 Profile Photo
James2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/30/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/30/05
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#8
Posted: 4/27/09 at 8:18pm
Talkin Broadway is Negative.

"The appeal of health clubs originates from the simplest of ideas: Bloat isn?t hot. Well, what?s true of the thighs is true of the theatre, and the revival of Desire Under the Elms, which just opened at the St. James after premiering at Chicago?s Goodman Theatre earlier this year, desperately needs liposuction.

It must be noted immediately that this is in spite of the nips and tucks director Robert Falls has made to Eugene O?Neill?s 1924 tragic melodrama (or is it a melodramatic tragedy?). He?s cut a fair amount of dialogue. He?s excised the attendant ensemble that?s always filled out the periphery of the 1850 New England setting, and settled on only five actors (only three of whom - Brian Dennehy, Carla Gugino, and Pablo Schreiber - have major roles). Most notably, he?s done away with the elms, placing the action on and around a pile of boulders that, as designed by Walt Spangler, looks like a confused cross between a quarry and an avalanche.

Yet the crazed excesses polluting this production?s every pore almost make the theater?s last tenant, the Patti LuPone revival of Gypsy, look reasonable and restrained in comparison. Falls has abandoned the commitment to naturalistic minimalism that served him well in his 1999 revival of Death of a Salesman and superbly in his 2003 version of Long Day?s Journey Into Night, and instead plunged into sugar-rush realism so heightened it may as well have been launched skyward with a catapult."

http://www.talkinbroadway.com/world/index.html
My avatar = A screencap from Avatar, arguably the greatest animated show of all
James2 Profile PhotoJames2 Profile Photo
James2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/30/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/30/05
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#9
Posted: 4/27/09 at 8:24pm
The Associated Press is Very Positive.

"The production from Chicago's Goodman Theatre is big and booming, almost operatic in its intensity and expansiveness. And it's stocked with oversized yet effective performances that hold their own against a gargantuan setting of rocks and a giant farmhouse that literally hangs in the air for much of the evening. That forbidding structure is the centerpiece of designer Walt Spangler's grandiose set design.

"Desire Under the Elms" is a challenge for any director and cast. Fortunately, director Robert Falls and a terrific cast headed by Brian Dennehy, Carla Gugino and Pablo Schreiber are at the top of their game....

"Desire Under the Elms" may not be of such high rank as "Long Day's Journey" or "Iceman," but Falls' startling, enormously imaginative reinvention makes a strong case of it. In other words, this revival is a must for any serious theatergoer."

http://www.nj.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/entertainment-1/1240874579315330.xml&storylist=entertainment

-------

amNY is Mixed-to-Positive with a 2.5 star rating.

"In spite of the over-the-top emotions, what really keep this production grounded are the cast?s convincing performances Carla Gugino oozes with a Maggie the Cat sexuality that is eventually tempered by guilt and desperateness. Paolo Schreiber erupts with an overreaching anger ready to erupt. Their accents are occasionally difficult to understand. Brian Dennehy is commanding as the proud and stubborn patriarch.

Robert Falls? direction is unnecessarily conceptual. Instead of pastoral elms, the set consists of a huge rock quarry, obviously meant to symbolize how the play?s characters feel trapped. The family?s house is a massive set piece that ascends and descends from above....

But regardless of the cast and director, ?Desire Under the Elms? is the kind of play that will be appreciated by some and booed by others. Try and think of it as watching a soap opera set on a 19th century New England farm."

http://weblogs.amny.com/entertainment/stage/blog/2009/04/theater_review_of_desire_under_1.html
My avatar = A screencap from Avatar, arguably the greatest animated show of all
BustopherPhantom Profile PhotoBustopherPhantom Profile Photo
BustopherPhantom
Broadway Legend
joined:8/31/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/31/06
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#10
Posted: 4/27/09 at 9:25pm
The Associated Press is a Rave: it calls the play "must-see theater."

Backstage is a Rave:

"As he did with his groundbreaking 1999 revival of Death of a Salesman, Robert Falls shatters expectations and forces us to rethink an American classic. His new production of Eugene O'Neill's 1924 Desire Under the Elms, now on Broadway after a run at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, defies popular conceptions of the play and O'Neill's work in general..."

http://www.backstage.com/bso/reviews-ny-theatre-broadway/desire-under-the-elms-1003966879.story
"Y'know, I think Bertolt Brecht was rolling in his grave."
-Nellie McKay on the 2006 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, in which she played Polly Peachum
James2 Profile PhotoJames2 Profile Photo
James2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/30/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/30/05
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#11
Posted: 4/27/09 at 10:23pm
The New York Times (Isherwood) is a Rave.

"A lust for sex and a lust for real estate are familiar passions to many, notwithstanding the plummeting co-op market and those libido-dampening Dow numbers. But these primal drives take on an eerie, entrancing strangeness in the gutsy revival of Eugene O?Neill?s ?Desire Under the Elms? that opened Monday night at the St. James Theater. Portraying a stepmother and stepson doomed to enact a feverish, erotic dance that will ultimately destroy them, Carla Gugino and Pablo Schreiber fight like tigers in a cage over a legacy of land, even as their bodies cleave violently together, aflame with urgent need.

First seen at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, where it was the centerpiece of a winter festival devoted to O?Neill, this visually spectacular production wraps his powerful but problematic 1924 play in a big bear hug, making no attempt to throw a blanket of soft naturalism over its sometimes glaring flaws. On the contrary, the director Robert Falls, who led the last Broadway revival of ?Long Day?s Journey Into Night,? honors O?Neill?s ambition to transplant Greek tragedy to American soil by mounting the play on an epic scale, even adding a few expressionist touches of his own. (A recording by Bob Dylan is unexpectedly heard.)"

http://theater2.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/theater/reviews/28desi.html
My avatar = A screencap from Avatar, arguably the greatest animated show of all
BustopherPhantom Profile PhotoBustopherPhantom Profile Photo
BustopherPhantom
Broadway Legend
joined:8/31/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/31/06
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#12
Posted: 4/27/09 at 10:29pm
The Hollywood Reporter is Negative:

"It's easy to see what director Robert Falls is aiming for with his production, which garnered much acclaim at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. His Expressionistic staging clearly seems designed to accentuate the stylized aspects of this problematic, Greek tragedy-inspired work.

Unfortunately, his choices too often call attention to themselves, rather than enhancing the emotional impact of the overheated melodrama."

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/film-reviews/theater-review-desire-under-the-elms-1003966882.story
"Y'know, I think Bertolt Brecht was rolling in his grave."
-Nellie McKay on the 2006 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, in which she played Polly Peachum
BustopherPhantom Profile PhotoBustopherPhantom Profile Photo
BustopherPhantom
Broadway Legend
joined:8/31/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/31/06
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#13
Posted: 4/27/09 at 10:34pm
Entertainment Weekly gives the show a B+:

"When the Oedipal affair takes the inevitable appalling turn, Abbie goes from madly in love to just plain mad ? an area that's turning out to be Gugino's forte. Recall her 2004 Broadway debut, an ill-conceived revival of Arthur Miller's After the Fall, in which she sparkled as a suicidal Marilyn Monroe-esque singer; then in 2006, she livened up Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer as a fresh-from-the-looney-bin lobotomy candidate. She goes crazy very convincingly. 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 be found on Schreiber's face or in his voice. He just seems angry all the time. And if Dennehy's slight Irish brogue seems more apropos for Long Day's Journey Into Night or A Touch of the Poet, he's completely in command, every inch the rock-like Ephraim that Elms requires; 'his face is as hard as if it were hewn out of a boulder,' wrote O'Neill of the character.

And speaking of rocks...they essentially take the place of elms in this production. Enormous, back-breakingly heavy boulders are stacked everywhere on Walt Spangler's stunningly expressionistic set, suggesting that all that's growing on this land is rage, sin, and duplicity. The farmhouse, suspended in mid-air for much of the play, seems as if it could crush the Cabots at any moment. Actually, that set could crush a lot of Broadway actors. But not Dennehy. And certainly not the marvelous Gugino."

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20275025,00.html
"Y'know, I think Bertolt Brecht was rolling in his grave."
-Nellie McKay on the 2006 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, in which she played Polly Peachum
little_sally Profile Photolittle_sally Profile Photo
little_sally
Broadway Legend
joined:1/15/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
1/15/04
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#14
Posted: 4/27/09 at 10:43pm
Well, these are a lot better than I expected.
A little swash, a bit of buckle - you'll love it more than bread.
WiCkEDrOcKS Profile PhotoWiCkEDrOcKS Profile Photo
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/13/04
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#15
Posted: 4/27/09 at 10:52pm
TheaterMania is Mixed to Negative??

Again, an odd review from TM. No real comments on the show itself, just complaints that the actors scream their lines.

"In an introduction to Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms, the celebrated chronicler of shattered illusions notes about those titular trees that "there is a sinister maternity in their aspect, a crushing, jealous absorption?.They brood oppressively over the house." Taking such care --and imposing prose -- to describe the elms, O'Neill obviously considers their presence of no little importance. But in the only intermittently effective revival of the 1924 bodice-ripping gloom-and-doomer, which has transferred to Broadway's St. James Theatre from Chicago's Goodman Theatre, director Robert Falls waves the elms off and has set designer Walt Spangler replace them with stones the size of boulders.
...
The misguided emphasis on volume takes its toll on the performances by these five clearly accomplished actors. Gugino, who gets to flash her breathtaking legs, and Schreiber, who has a body ripe for the cover of Men's Health, may circle and grope each other like animals in heat, but the unchanging decibel level precludes much sense of their interior lives. Dennehy has the same problem, although his abrupt aging at the denouement is impressive. Still, this is a rocky production in every sense of the word. "

http://www.theatermania.com/broadway/reviews/04-2009/desire-under-the-elms_18796.html

Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
Updated On: 4/27/09 at 10:52 PM
GIZMO2 Profile PhotoGIZMO2 Profile Photo
GIZMO2
Stand-by
joined:7/19/08
Stand-by
joined:
7/19/08
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#16
Posted: 4/27/09 at 11:01pm
Regarding the Times review, I can't agree that Isherwood has given this show a "Rave." Mixed, maybe. But certainly not a "Rave."

After all, he mentions that the play has "glaring flaws" and is "problematic" at least four times in his article. And I've found with Isherwood sometimes you gotta read between the lines to find out what he's trying to say.
Sauja Profile PhotoSauja Profile Photo
Sauja
Broadway Legend
joined:1/7/07
Broadway Legend
joined:
1/7/07
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#17
Posted: 4/27/09 at 11:05pm
Jeez. When even one of the better reviews includes this line, "The writing can be repetitive and painfully overexplicit, the attempts at poetry blunt and strained," how do you decide whether it's worth going? I can't say that I'm especially tempted to see this when everyone seems focused on how problematic the play itself is. But I still have that nagging feeling that I SHOULD.
WiCkEDrOcKS Profile PhotoWiCkEDrOcKS Profile Photo
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/13/04
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#18
Posted: 4/27/09 at 11:10pm
I'd definitely call Isherwood's review very positive, if not a rave. It's up on Did He Like It and it's one of his critic's picks already.
Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
ColorTheHours048 Profile PhotoColorTheHours048 Profile Photo
ColorTheHours048
Broadway Legend
joined:4/4/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
4/4/08
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#19
Posted: 4/27/09 at 11:18pm
I don't know why anyone's surprised about the positive reviews. It got positive reviews in Chicago and it's the same here.
April Saul
Broadway Legend
joined:2/17/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/17/06
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#20
Posted: 4/27/09 at 11:54pm
I think Isherwood's praising the production, and faulting the play, which he pretty much says is second-rate O'Neill. Sauja, I'd say if you do go, don't spend a lot of money on your ticket! As much as I admired Gugino's performance, I was glad that I hadn't spent more than $27 to see this...does that help? re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews
scott68 Profile Photoscott68 Profile Photo
scott68
Broadway Legend
joined:1/21/07
Broadway Legend
joined:
1/21/07
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#21
Posted: 4/28/09 at 12:04am
I have to say, of the quotes shown in this thread, the Hollywood Reporter's are the ones I most agree with... and yet, I did enjoy the play, overall. As people have said, I think it's an overly conscious reworking of a not-that-fantastic play, featuring some really great performances. However, I didn't spend any money to see it, and I don't know that I'd recommend that anyone else see it at traditionally Broadway-priced tickets.
"Why, I make more money than... than... than Calvin Coolidge! PUT TOGETHER!"
~Lina Lamont


My name wasn't, isn't, and will never be Scott.
CurtainPullDowner Profile PhotoCurtainPullDowner Profile Photo
CurtainPullDowner
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
11/4/04
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#22
Posted: 4/28/09 at 12:11am
Isherwood is def positive in a gay porno/Roundabout/ANNA CHRISTIE way.
"their bodies cleave violently together"
"Mr. Schreiber, with a backwoods face and a beefcake body"
"harlot"
And he describes Mr. Schreiber's eyes in a rather naughty way.
He made me want to see it.
MiracleElixir Profile PhotoMiracleElixir Profile Photo
MiracleElixir
Broadway Star
joined:4/23/07
Broadway Star
joined:
4/23/07
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#23
Posted: 4/28/09 at 12:31am
The rave from the NY TIMES will no doubt gets butts in seats, but does anyone else wonder if these schizophrenic reviews are really going to do much one way or the other?
CurtainPullDowner Profile PhotoCurtainPullDowner Profile Photo
CurtainPullDowner
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
11/4/04
re: DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS Reviews#24
Posted: 4/28/09 at 12:50am
Yes, the schizophrenic reviews will do much, no, they won't, maybe they will, maybe not, yes, but no.
I can't believe they removed the "titular trees"
Aren't they the Desire under the dead Mother's Elm's?