Photo: Liz Lauren
It's usually exciting to see a show that makes my top ten list, but not when it's "top ten worst things I've ever seen." This production of Desire Under the Elms is pompous, heavy-handed, and slow. One performance is valiant and interesting (Carla Gugino); the rest range from dull to embarrassing. Robert Falls directed this mess, and he really should know better. In the beginning of the show, two men move rocks. They are heavy rocks--or, rather, they are supposed to be heavy, but despite full-throttle indicating and grunting by the two actors, the rocks never actually seem heavy. So, anyway, these guys move some heavy rocks. Boy, is their life tough and oppressive. And then they move some heavy rocks. Tough and oppressive life, huh? And then they move some heavy rocks. OKAY! Enough already, I get it--their life is tough and oppressive. But, no, they move some more rocks. Parts of the rest of the show are somewhat less boring, but not many. The play itself is far from a masterpiece, but it's better than this production, which lacks subtlety, pacing, drama, chemistry, and tension. Mostly, people yell and emote and fail to connect with each other and the audience. The direction is stilted and off-putting and overdone. If you wanted to do a takeoff of this show, well, you couldn't. It's its own takeoff.