Desire Under the Elms



  • A tragedy by Eugene O'Neill, first performed in 1924in New York, where the play's treatment of incest and infanticideprovoked a police raid. Originally banned in Britain, the play openedin 1931 at the Gate Theatre Club, London, with Eric Portman and FloraRobson.

    Set on a New England farm in the 1850s, the play focuses uponthe triangle of the farmer Ephraim Cabot, his son Eben, and his newwife, Abbie. Eben hates his father for depriving him of his dead mother'sfarm. When Abbie arrives on the scene, Eben begins an affair withher, resulting in the birth of a child that must be passed off asEphraim's. When told that the farm will now go directly to the baby,Eben decides to leave for California. Abbie, however, tries to proveher love for Eben by smothering the child to death. The lovers arearrested, and Ephraim abandons the farm.