This article suggests that the 2009 production of Desire under the Elms, directed by Robert Falls first at Chicago's Goodman Theater and later at Broadway's St. James Theater, shifts the tragic crux of the play away from the adulterous sex in the parlor and onto the shoulders of Ephraim Cabot, who errs in attempting to establish normative domesticity. The Falls production, which was without elms, featured a full-sized house hanging above the stage surface, and inserted in the space between O'Neill's first two acts a long montage of domestic chores set to the soundtrack of Bob Dylan's “Not Dark Yet.” These factors and others contribute to the performative condemnation of Ephraim Cabot, underscoring how Desire belongs in the company of many other O'Neill plays that are deeply critical of normative domesticity.

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