Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Desire Under the Elms

My grandmother and I went to our monthly dinner and a show on Thursday. We ate at the sort-of expensive restaurant we sometimes go to when my grandmother can get double air miles by eating there. The food is good enough, but I'm really in it for the apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream. Priorities, right? I mean, that was totally the highlight of the night. And while, admittedly, food is often a highlight for me, the problem here was that I really didn't like the play.

Anyway, it's not that I didn't know that Desire Under the Elms is a depressing play. I knew that. But it's so goddamn stagey. The dialogue, the plot, the way the actors--Carla Gugino excepted--speak . . . it all rings so false and strips the play of whatever power it might have. And the staging and set seem calculated to make the play feel less dated, but it doesn't really work. Mostly the set looks expensive and attention grabbing. Granted, it helps create a feeling of claustrophobia and heaviness, but I'm not sure it's necessary to have a giant house hovering above the stage to create that feeling. I don't know, the play as a whole wound up feeling kind of bland and tiring to me. Tedious, even.

It was one of those nights where you sit in the theater thinking what am I doing here and why are they reviving this instead of doing something new. And that's never a good feeling. Sure, Gugino is fantastic. But I would have preferred to see her be fantastic in something else.

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