Monday, July 30, 2012
“BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS” A DELIGHT
Eugene Morris Jerome is a large moniker to be saddled with, especially if you’d prefer to be called Bob or Tony. The angst of teenage years and the onset of puberty are exacerbated for Eugene as he copes with his extended family’s bountiful supply of problems. While he’d rather be daydreaming about playing World Series baseball games for the Yankees or even, God forbid, the Cubs, he finds himself caught up in the myriad crises in his household from his brother Stanley’s business ethics and get rich quick schemes to his cousin Nora’s Broadway career opportunities to his father Jack’s stress induced heart attack. The fact that another World War might be around the corner is also a major concern.
For an intimate, up close and personal glimpse into Eugene’s world, look no further than Neil Simon’s autobiographical “Brighton Beach Memoirs” at Town Players of Newtown until Sunday, July 29. This involving and touching play is the first in a trilogy about Simon’s life that continues with “Biloxi Blues” and “Broadway Bound.”
Evan Thompson is wonderfully genuine as a young teenage boy caught up in his family’s dramas, suffering through dinners of liver and lima beans (hopefully not in the same night), worrying about his aunt’s asthma and poor eye sight, his cousin Laurie’s fluttering heart, his father’s sudden attack, his brother’s possible enlistment into the army and his fifteen daily trips to the grocery store for two tablespoons of flour and three teaspoons of sugar, thanks to his mother’s thrift-induced measures.
Lester Colodny directs a fine cast that includes Marla Manning as his always worrying and caring mother, Steve Yudelson as his advice-giving and compassionate father, Kellan Peavy as his big hearted and conflicted brother Stan, Elizabeth Young as his trying hard to be happy and helpful aunt Blanche, Jacqueline Rowland as his ambitious and talented cousin Nora and Leah Nashel as his precocious and pampered cousin Laurie. A homey set is created for this 1937 Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York neighborhood story.
Let Eugene share moments of despair and ecstasy as he tries to survive his teenage years and perhaps get a golden glimpse of paradise (for at least two and a half seconds) in the process.