Theater: Suffocated Souls

Desire Under the Elms, by Eugene O'Neill, seems, after 38 years, as familiar as inherited folklore. It is the mid-19th century New England saga of the flinty, greedy. God-bedeviled, lust-maddened Cabot clan and its internecine struggle over the family farm. To possess it. the sons wish their father dead, brother plots against brother, a young woman marries a fanatical old man, seduces his son to obtain an heir, and murders the infant to repossess the son's love. George C. Scott plays the fire-breathing old father Ephraim with monomaniacal force. As the woman, Colleen Dewhurst achieves a masterly transitional shading between feline...

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