Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Beyond the Horizon
The play is an elemental depiction of just how badly awry good intentions can go. Andrew Mayo (Felipe Cabezas) is devoted to his family's New England farm, while his brother Robert (Joshua Drew) prefers reading and looking beyond the horizon, planning to go to sea on a ship captained by his uncle (Joe Cronin). Their parents (plain-spoken Chuck Young, sensitive Jane E. Petkofsky) assume that Andrew will marry Ruth Atkins, daughter of the farmer next door, but she prefers Robertsetting in motion a downward spiral leading to destruction.
Drew, with his guileless face and dreamy attitude, and wiry, muscular Cabezas are both well suited to their roles. The director also had the inspired idea of using a life-size puppet (instead of a child actress) to represent Robert and Ruth's toddler daughter, with appropriate vocal and physical expression by Ashley DeMain.
The problematic flourish in Akerley's direction comes in her depiction of Ruth. To minimize what she sees as the playwright's view that Ruth is a bitter, unsympathetic woman who causes Robert's downfall, she has chosen to cast the role with a different actress in each act. While each one is fine, if a little overly mannered, it's confusing to see DeMain in the first act, the full-bodied, wide-eyed young woman who suggests promise in the future; Eli Sibley in the second act, worn out and frustrated, trying to hold the farm and her family together; and Amy Quigginswho earlier played Ruth's angry, judgmental motherseem to achieve a form of peace in the third. One of these performers, possibly Sibley, could have conveyed the different facets of the character without the confusion.
American Century Theater