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Eugene O’Neill’s 1924 tragedy is an evocative mix of the poetic and the crude, a rural New England version of a Greek myth in which greed, love and lust lead to terrible consequences when twice-widowed septuagenarian farmer Ephraim takes a younger wife.

His three grown up sons – two from his first marriage, young Eben from his second – all maintain they have a claim to the farm, especially Eben who firmly believes that his mother worked herself into an early grave and that the land is his by rights.

The imminent arrival of a new step-mother adds another dimension to their squabbles over the inheritance and Eben craftily buys out his half-brothers who set off in search of Californian gold, leaving behind an uneasy triangle.

Sean Holmes’ atmospheric production slides the farmhouse rooms on and off the set, enclosed boxes within which confessions are made and passions played out.

The acting is variable, but Denise Gough is compelling throughout as the outspoken newcomer who married an old man to guarantee herself a home and Finbar Lynch (though decades younger than the specified 76) is equally powerful as the harsh old paterfamilias, lonely in all his marriages, who would take the farm with him beyond the grave if he possibly could.
 

Lyric Hammersmith, King Street, W6 0QL
Tube | Hammersmith
Until  10th November
£12.50 - £35.00
lyric.co.uk

 

Image: Keith Pattison


 

 



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