Press Release: Eugene O’Neill’s classic Desire Under the Elms comes to the Baxter this July

July 4, 2014

After the international success of Tennessee Williams’ Kingdom of Earth and The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, Abrahamse & Meyer Productions and the Baxter Theatre Centre bring Cape Town theatre lovers a sizzling new production of Eugene O’Neill’s classic drama Desire Under the Elms in the Golden Arrow Studio from 9 to 26 July.


Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and four Pulitzer Prizes, Eugene O’Neill is considered one of the world’s greatest playwrights and the father of modern American drama. He is best known for his intense, emotional plays like Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Mourning Becomes Electra and Strange Interlude.


This production transposes the original New England setting to the Eastern Cape in the 1890s. O’Neill had a life-long obsession with and interest in South Africa, having heard fantastic stories about the country from his father’s publicist, who had worked as a journalist in South Africa during the Boer War.


Desire Under the Elms stars veteran actor Robin Smith as the austere patriarch Ephraim Cabot, Marcel Meyer as his son Eben and Mbali Bloom in the central role of Abbie Putnam.


Multi-award-winner Fred Abrahamse is responsible for direction, as well as set and lighting design. Abrahamse has garnered a reputation as a leading director of classic American plays with acclaimed productions of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Kingdom of Earth and The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins. This production also features an evocative original score by celebrated composer Charl-Johan Lingenfelder and detailed period costumes by award-winning designer Marcel Meyer.


Incorporating themes from classical tragedies like Phaedra, Medea and Oedipus Rex, O’Neill created a gripping tragedy of love, lust, passion and possession that still ranks as one of the greatest classics of the American stage. Old Man Cabot, a direct descendant of the 1820 Settlers, returns to the family farm with his new Xhosa bride, Abbie Putnam. This sets the stage for a dynamic power struggle between Cabot’s son, Eben, and Abbie concerning ownership of the land.


With its depiction of a passionate relationship between a young man and his stepmother, the original 1924 production of Desire Under the Elms was surrounded by controversy. Ninety years later, the play remains an absorbing and powerful exploration of human passion and desire. This production is bound to be one of the must-see productions in Cape Town this winter.


Tickets range from R100 to R140 and booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. For discounted corporate or block bookings, fundraisers and charities, contact Sharon on 021 680 3962 or Carmen on 021 680 3993 during office hours.

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