The play concerns Ed (played appealingly, if a little first-night shakily, by Ron Kagan), a small-time stalker who hides in the bushes to watch the object of his desires put on her nylons. Nylons, because the play was inspired by an Edward Hopper painting, and everyone dresses in the style of 1940s or 50s America. One night, Ed is disturbed by Jack, who instead of calling the police, as Ed fears, asks to watch Ed as he stalks. He claims to be doing research on the phenomenon of stalking, but it soon becomes clear that he has an ulterior motive, and an unexpected relationship with the stalkee.
Jack is played by Charles Booth, who also wrote and directed. The play is actually quite abstract and personal, and other characters exist to represent conflicting forces in Jack’s troubled personality. Ed the stalker, perversely, seems to represent a more innocent state of being that Jack’s character is nostalgic for.
The play is quite inventive in its attempts to represent the tortured workings of Jack’s mind. In one enjoyable scene, Jack receives an amateur, and very unorthodox, psychiatric consultation from a Jewish professor.
But Elusiver Desires lacks authorial distance from its main character. You feel the presence of the writer most of the time, not just because he’s on stage playing Jack. And the more embroiled I became in Jack’s inner life, the less edifying an experience it became. The play presents us with some fairly unpleasant aspects of the male psyche, and doesn’t have any dramatic means to comment on or asses them. This is possibly because there aren’t really any proper female characters. I left feeling like I’d seen a rather neurotic play, rather than a play about neurosis.