Outward Bound (play)

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Outward Bound
Written bySutton Vane
Date premieredSeptember 27, 1923 (1923-09-27)
Place premieredEveryman Theatre, London
Original languageEnglish
SettingOn board ship, the present

Outward Bound is a 1923 play written by Sutton Vane.


A group of seven passengers meet in the lounge of an ocean liner at sea and realise that they have no idea why they are there, or where they are bound. Each of them eventually discovers that they are dead, and that they have to face judgment from an Examiner, who will determine whether they are to go to Heaven or Hell.


Producers stayed away from such an unusual combination of fantasy and drama, so Vane staged it himself, painting his own backdrops and building his own sets, at a reported cost of $600. The play proved to be a huge success, becoming the hit of the 1923 London season, transferring from the small Everyman Cinema in Hampstead to the West End.

London cast[edit]

Broadway production[edit]

Such was the initial response to Outward Bound that theatrical producer William Harris Jr. purchased the American rights before the play even opened in the West End.[1] Directed by Robert Milton,[2] the Broadway production premiered January 7, 1924, at the Ritz Theatre, running for 144 performances until May 1924.[3] The original Broadcast cast is recorded at the Internet Broadway Database:[3]


There were London revivals in 1926, 1928 and 1940. In the last of these, the original player of Scrubby, the Charon-like barman, was played by its creator, Stanley Lathbury, with Cathleen Nesbitt, Sarah Churchill, Louise Hampton, Terence De Marney and Anthony Hawtrey.[4]

The play was revived on Broadway at the Playhouse Theatre, from 22 December 1938 to 22 July 1939, running for 255 performances. This production was directed by Otto Preminger, and featured Laurette Taylor, Helen Chandler, and Vincent Price.

The play was revived in London at the Finborough Theatre in 2012, with a cast comprising David Brett, Natalie Walter, Tom Davey, Nicholas Karimi, Carmen Rodriguez, Paul Westwood, Ursula Mohan, Derek Howard and Martin Wimbush.[5]


Vane wrote a novelization of his play, Outward Bound: A Novel, published in 1929.[6]

A film adaptation titled Outward Bound (1930) was produced by Warner Bros. The studio engaged Robert Milton, director of the Broadway production, to direct the motion picture. Dudley Digges, Beryl Mercer and Lyonel Watts reprised their Broadway roles; Leslie Howard, who had played Henry in the stage production, starred in the role that had been played by Alfred Lunt.[2]

The film was remade as Between Two Worlds (1944), with some changes reflecting World War II. John Garfield, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet, and Eleanor Parker starred.


  1. ^ "Harris Scores a Beat". The Indianapolis Sunday Star. October 28, 1923.
  2. ^ a b Hall, Mordaunt (September 18, 1930). "The Screen: Away from the World". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  3. ^ a b "Outward Bound". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  4. ^ "Mr Vane Sutton-Vane", The Times, 19 June 1963, p. 15; and "Theatres", The Times, 7 August 1940, p. 6
  5. ^ "Theatre: Outward Bound", The Stage, 9 February 2012, p. 17
  6. ^ Vane, Sutton (1829). Outward Bound: A Novel. London: Chatto & Windus. OCLC 774546720.

External links[edit]