Beyond The Horizon – National Theatre, Cottesloe

Having already been awed by Laurie Sansom’s production of Spring Storm, it’s pair, Beyond The Horizon, had high expectations to live up to. This early Eugene O’Neill however more than comfortably steps up to the mark, although comfortable viewing it is not.

O’Neill was never one to cast a rosy tint over life and Beyond The Horizon is no exception.

It’s a tangled love story as two brother’s fall in, and out, of love with a local Connecticut girl. Andrew the reliable farmer and Robert the escapist dreamer both realise they love Ruth, but Roberts impending departure overseas sets about a change in the status quo. Realising he loves Ruth he stays behind to manage the farm, in the process forcing his brother to see. One small action can have far reaching effects and as the years path these two differing paths take their respective tolls on the brothers.

O’Neill’s script may have been an early work but it shows a writer already skilled in showing raw human emotion. Aside from the script, one of the pure joys of this production is the strength of the acting, with three emotionally charged performances at the centre; Liz White’s Ruth, Michael Malarkey’s Robert and Michael Thomson’s Andrew.

Although first staged in 1920 Beyond The Horizon is as fresh and as relevant today and this production of it will be hard to beat. Simply but effectively staged, both this play and Spring Storm demonstrate the genius of two of America’s greatest playwrights.

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