How It’s New York: Eugene O’Neill (1888 – 1953) was a Broadway baby, born in a Broadway hotel room, and there are traces of him all over the city. The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center (based in Connecticut, but has offices in NY) nurtures and develops new talent at a highly prestigious retreat every summer. It’s a very New York thing to see several companies take on the same playwright in the same year, too. Right now, there’s O’Neill at Irish Repertory Theatre, and at St. Ann’s Warehouse, in a joint production by the Wooster Group and Richard Maxwell’s New York City Players.
How It’s Irish: O’Neill himself was second-generation Irish– his father James was a famous actor. He obviously inherited some of the poetry from Dad. But you don’t have to justify his inclusion at Irish Repertory Theatre by his pedigree alone. Yearning, melancholy, love of the sea, battle with depression and drink, and the dangerous call of poetry always lurk in his plays. Often there’s an Irish character around, as there is in the Glencairn plays; the characters in Beyond the Horizon are clearly Irish-American.
A version of this review first appeared in Irish Examiner USA, February 28.
Seeing these early works of O’Neill back to back is enlightening in many ways. But the one not to miss is Ciarán O’Reilly’s luminous production of Beyond the Horizon at Irish Rep.
Eugene O’Neill, In Brooklyn And In Chelsea
|Ari Fliakos, Kate Valk, Jim Fletcher, Lakpa Bhutia and Andrew Schneider(Courtesy of The Wooster Group)|
each play. To capture the difficulties of communication–and because it was a convention of the time–he also wrote, meticulously, the dialect of each of the sailors, many of whom were non-native speakers of English.
|Wrenn Schmidt, Lucas Hall @Carol Rosegg|
Irish Repertory Theatre’s production of “Beyond the Horizon”, on the other hand, is deeply affecting.
|Lucas Hall, Rod Brogan @Carol Rosegg|
Rob and Andy are both even aware of this. Andy is a born farmer, “as much a part of the land as a tree or an ear of corn,” and his letters from sea are, Rob notices, like “letters from a farmer”–all business, work, practicality.
|Johanna Leister , Wrenn Schmidt, Patricia Conolly, Aimee Laurence|
Similarly, when Ruth shrieks at Rob that she’s always loved Andy, you might expect a showdown, or a separation, some kind of development of the triangle.