Desire Under the Elms Director Jerry McAdams picks a deliberate path through Eugene O'Neill's tale of the Cabot family's disintegration. Act One unspools with stately grace, allowing Peter (Ben Ritchie), Simeon (Chris Jones) and their half-brother Eben (Franklin Killian) to slowly reveal the fractures in their relationship. Ritchie and Jones make an entertaining team, while Eben, a seething ball of spite, twitches and sputters with indignant rage against the cruelty of their absent father, Ephraim (Jim Anthony, powerful and excellent). When the three discover Ephraim has a new wife, Abbie (the very good Patty Ulrich), the brothers depart for California. Ephraim is feeling his age (he's in his seventies, Abbie's in her thirties), and he lays out the arc of his life in a speech that is beautifully melancholy, while Abbie obliviously brushes her hair. She has fallen in love with Eben. Her seduction of him is nauseating and brilliantly performed, the perfect lustful counterbalance to Ephraim's lonely monologue. A fine story, well told — and depressing as hell. Presented by Muddy Waters Theatre through March 28 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Boulevard (in the Big Brothers Big Sisters building). Tickets are $25 ($20 for students, seniors and active-duty military personnel). Call 314-799-8399 or visit www.muddywaterstheatre.com. — Paul Friswold
Gutenberg! The Musical! Reviewed in this issue.Ongoing
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