4/22/2013 10:24 AM
William Inge believed that the most treacherous battlefield was the home--the "domestic hive," he called it--and this play, first produced in 1950 and a success, allows us to watch Lola walk tentatively among the mines she has planted. Lola has lost her looks and her energy and her dog--the Sheba of the title, but the dog, as Inge has stated, is youth and promise, and no matter how many thighs are patted and no matter how many plaintive calls are uttered, that dog is not coming back. Inge can be confused as a simple playwright--his dialogue is often sparse--but there is a great deal of subtext in his plays, none more than this one. There is rage and contempt beneath these seemingly comfortable exteriors, and they afford actors a great opportunity to showcase their ability to create detailed, layered performances. Most productions of this play have featured a comfortably cluttered set--shabby genteel in style--to indicate the disorder of the household, but productions with spare or entirely bare sets have been particularly powerful. Desires, Inge once stated, never die, but they can't get to the finish line. This is the play that best displays this sentiment.