Desire Under the Elms

The Hypocrites - September 2007

Performed at the Chopin Theater, Chicago

By Eugene O'Neill


“The Hypocrites’ production, so well-nestled in the basement of the Chopin Theatre that you are startled by the low rumble of the Blue Line beneath the building, illuminates O’Neill’s poetical vision most definitely through the visual… giving director Button an ideal canvas on which to create some arrestingly deliberative moments… Under Button’s direction, the oafish antics of the older Cabot sons, the tortured tension and explosions between youngest son Eben and his young stepmother, and the fruitless scripture-declaiming of their father unfold in a union just as seamless and as searing as O'Neills vision of life and the poetic"

– Meghan Powell, Time Out Chicago

"Desire" is definitely not an easy work to carry off, but with the Hypocrites' production at the Chopin Theatre studio space, director Geoff Button and his cast have created a lip-smackingly good production… With O'Neill it is clear from the start that a master is at work -- a writer who can set a story on fire. The actors follow through, so that the scenes between Abbie, and the father and stepson whose lives she enters, are truly incendiary."

– Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times

"Critic's Choice. Eugene O'Neill's 1924 shocker retains its tragic force in the Hypocrites' taut, intelligent revival… Geoff Button's well-crafted staging charts the characters' shifting relationships while illuminating O'Neill's vision of how the human spirit is warped by a lust for land." 

– Albert Williams, Chicago Reader

"Director Geoff Button enthusiatically graces O'Neill's combination of realism and Greek tragedy with a sure hand... Button is also able to guide multilayered performances from his cast... Overall Button and his cast shine a fresh, haunted light into the dark corners of O'Neill's script."

- Brian Kirst, Chicago Free Press

"Director Geoff Button allows his actors to explore the unseemly depths of human filth in what he describes in his director's note as an attempt to give us an idea what it means to be clean. The result is an artistic triumph... Button establishes himself as one of the top directors in town by melding all of these elements into a cohesive production that allows the mostly young cast to pull this difficult show off."

- Randy Harwick, Chicago Critic

“The first act, under the direction of Geoff Button… exists merely to set the table for Act 2, which to Button's credit has unstoppable momentum as Abbie does the unthinkable. The woman is part schemer, part lover, and Francis keeps you guessing right up until the very end. When her character is finally revealed, it is as if she is skinned alive."

– Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune

"The Hypocrites don't do melodrama as a rule. But in light of director Geoff Button's excellent revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Desire Under the Elms,"… they might want to reconsider… In less sensitive hands, "Desire" might be just another potboiler. But Button uncovers its pathos, while still maintaining the sexual tension... A highly charged, thoughtfully rendered revival."

– Barbara Vitello, Daily Herald

  • Directed by Geoff Button
  • Scenic Design by Tracy Otwell
  • Lighting Design by Jared Moore
  • Costume Design by Alison Siple
  • Sound Design and Original Music by Kevin O'Donnell
  • Production Manged by Maggie Fullilove Nugent
  • Stage Managed by Mary Ellen Reick