A little over a month ago, Jamie and I caught the tail end of the Goodman production of Desire Under the Elms.
I enjoyed it, mostly for the performances. The boulder-strewn set confused me a bit, but I like it when a director takes a risk.
Apparently, NY audiences aren’t taking the bait. The show has transferred to Broadway’s St. James Theatre, and started previews this week. At talkinbroadway.com, one poster said:
This production is much ado about nothing. To say Isherwood in the times exaggerated in his review is an understatement. Heat, what heat. . .The set is comprised of huge boulders and a house that hangs in the air most of the show; having never read or seen the play are there supposed to be trees? Looks like a bigger version of the set they used for Misbegotten last go round. Clearly the director was trying to do something new with this old melodrama but it falls flat. Overlong opening scene with ominous music and 2 actors pushing rocks and then gutting a pig. A long scene mid play where a Bob Dylan song is played and the actors go silently about their business. Lots of stares and glaring. I think the gentleman behind me got it right when the curtain came down. He said this production should have been called Love on the Rocks and they could have used the Neil Diamond song. You had to be there. Also, I have never heard so many people saying “what did he say” so many times during a show. This production needs supertitles.
I agree that the heavily accented dialogue was quite hard to understand – particularly in the first 15 minutes. Which was unfortunate, as those few moments were packed with expository information. We’ll see how it fares with the critics when it opens April 27.
Carla Gugino and Brian Dennehy amongst the rocks in the Broadway revival of Desire Under the Elms.