Grand Horizons Brings Catharsis, Introspection to Gloucester Stage


Gloucester Stage Company already provides an intimate theater experience. It’s in the nature of the waterfront venue: bringing the audience into close physical proximity to the stage, set pieces, and actors.

“Grand Horizons,” a Tony Award-nominated play written by Bess Wohl and directed at Gloucester Stage by Robert Walsh, will occupy the theater through August 21.  The set of the production is simple, unchanging throughout the duration of the show: a single room, with a kitchen, living room, dining room table, stairs to an unseen second story, and a front door through which much of the dramatic action is channeled.  Not much else is needed in terms of location for a play that centers around family dynamics.  The plot is primarily character-driven, featuring frequent, tension-rife scenes between family members as elderly parents Nancy (Paula Plum) and Bill (Richard Snee) navigate a late-in-life divorce in the presence of their two grown sons, Ben (Jeremy Beazlie) and Brian (Greg Maraio), and pregnant daughter-in-law, Jess (Marissa Stewart).

From the very first scene, the actors demonstrate a family bond with all of the love, frustration, and nuance of a real family.  The cast creates a believable connection, performing true-to-life disagreements that deliberately leave the audience uncomfortable and reflective. 

Plum and Snee are married in real life, both experienced actors in the Gloucester Stage Company and beyond.  Their onstage chemistry contributes a comfortable familiarity to the group, an important aspect of the story of “Grand Horizons.”  What happens when two people become too comfortable with one another?  When does self-sacrifice begin to harm the greater family?  How righteous, really, is putting others first?

The quarrels between the couple’s son Ben and his wife Jess add a layer of true complexity to the plot, paralleling the older couple’s problems.  Whole-family arguments deliver witty remarks with a spot-on attitude.  The family dynamic may be a little too realistic at times, but it definitely strikes a comedic chord.  Scenes that showed age- or gender-driven disagreements were frequent and hilariously accurate. 

Interspersed with the comedic scenes were poignant ones.  Nancy pleads with her son Brian to see her as a person; actress Plum skillfully conveys the desperation of a woman whose needs have been neglected for 50 years in order to accommodate the roles of wife and mother.

The play is a touching and comedic mirror for couples in relationships, parents, and children alike.  “Grand Horizons” wants us to ask ourselves if we’re being as honest as possible with our loved ones; striving for happiness, no matter our age; harboring hurt or love.

Grand Horizons

Now thru Sunday, August  21

Gloucester Stage Company

267 E Main St, Gloucester

Wednesday – Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday + Sunday, 3 p.m.


theater, local, acting, play, gloucester stage, grand horizons