Desire Under the Elms
First Staged:
New York, 1924

Desire Under the Elms

By Eugene O'Neill

A story of greed, yearning and murder with incest and infanticide, and edged with echoes of Ancient Greek tragedy within a New England farming family.

When Ephraim Cabot brings home his new young bride Abbie following his wife's death, his three boys treat her with disdain – especially the youngest, Eben, who despises her deeply for taking his mother's place. But when his feelings for Abbie turn to lust, father-son relations are pushed to their very limits. And beyond.

Eugene O'Neill's play Desire Under the Elms was first performed at Greenwich Village Theater, New York, in November 1924. Its first London production was at the Gate Theatre in February 1931.

Press Quotes

'Features love, hate and familial issues that can rank with the best of them'

British Theatre Guide

'This is O'Neill aiming for the effect of Greek tragedy with nods in the direction of Euripedes and Sophocles - not to mention Sigmund Freud... you know you are in the hands of a master'

The Guardian

'Wryly despairing descriptions of disintegrating family life... the desire of the play's title is not so much lust - though there is that - but desire to belong'

Time Out

'A tragic atmosphere of brooding inevitability'

'Blackly comic as often as it is tragic'

The Stage

Also by Eugene O'Neill:

Anna Christie
A Moon for the Misbegotten
All God's Chillun Got Wings
The Great God Brown
Desire Under the Elms & The Great God Brown
The Hairy Ape & All God's Chillun Got Wings
Strange Interlude
The Hairy Ape
The Iceman Cometh
Anna Christie & The Emperor Jones: two plays
Long Day's Journey into Night
Mourning Becomes Electra
The Emperor Jones
Ah! Wilderness
A Touch of the Poet

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