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28 January 2009 @ 05:22 am
Glowing reviews for Desire Under the Elms & Carla's performance  

Carla Gugino & Pablo Schreiber


"As the aptly named Abbie Putnam, Gugino is already cooking with gas. Falling out of designer Ana Kuzmanic's delightfully hapless dress, splaying herself out on a table, fighting with the brittleness of a woman with one last chance to escape a puritanical hell, it's an arresting and courageous performance that oozes sex but also suggests the kind of steely alienation that can make sense of a mercurial character driven to such a pass. Or rather passes.

Falls has paid exquisitely careful attention to the power structure onstage. The striving Pablo Schreiber, who plays Abbie's younger lover (and surrogate son) is a sex object himself, but never her physical, emotional or temperamental equal, which makes Abbie's horrific concluding deed all the more odious.

The play is full of odious characters. In Falls' restless but metaphorically sound hands, they're all trapped in an arid landscape like purty little American rats, copulating, fighting, killing, expiring, striving. Their antics are not for the faint."


"The raw gigantism of this production hits you from the start — a long, wordless, utterly shocking sequence in which two brothers, the enormous Simeon Cabot (Daniel Stewart Sherman) and the dim-witted Peter (Boris McGiver), are yoked in a harness like oxen, hauling enormous rocks onto a containing wall. The backbreaking work continues as a huge pig, hoisted over a smoke pit by it hind legs, is eviscerated in the most graphic way. Talk about primal sacrifices...

...Falls’ vision, which unspools in an enthralling (intermissionless) 100 minutes, is fierce and relentless. Take note of the scene in which Abbie is seducing Ephraim: As he sits on the bed recounting the epic tale of his life and work, she and Eben almost consummate their passion through the walls. It’s a trio worthy of a Verdi opera. Or consider the way Abbie and Eben stealthily slither across the floor and kitchen table in a pursuit that has an almost biblical, snakelike eroticism to it. And watch the horrific moment when Abbie, completely alone, grabs hold of her iron bedpost as she gives birth to a baby.

It takes actors of immense presence to stand up to such an overwhelming environment, and this cast of five unquestionably meets the challenge.

Broadway veteran Gugino is absolutely sensational — petite, dark and balletic, she truly takes on the quality of the snake in the garden, using her body to exceptional effect to suggest Abbie’s boundless willfulness. Dennehy easily taps into the unmovable, self-made tyrant whose struggle for survival has robbed him of compassion. And he brings a creepy sense of foreboding to the scene in which he tells Abbie she sends a chill over him, and that he would prefer sleeping with the cows. Schreiber, as a young man awash in too many emotions and too little experience, turns in a beautifully calibrated performance that suggests the progression from boy to man. And Sherman and McGiver are models of illiterate men who know nothing but brute-force labor."

Tickets & Season : Production : Desire Under the Elms
Lemon: Desire Under the Elmslemon_tree_x on January 31st, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting these!

Have you already seen the play?
mrmidwestmrmidwest on February 9th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
You're welcome.

I think I'm going to try to get tickets for next Sunday.