Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Brighton Beach Memoirs
The Lake Worth Playhouse presents Neil Simon's award-winning drama Brighton Beach Memoirs. This semi-autobiographical play precedes Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound in what is known as Simon's Eugene Trilogy. The heartwarming coming-of-age story won Matthew Broderick a Tony Award and launched his career at the Alvin Theatre on March 23, 1983. A film adaptation was released in 1986 starring Jonathan Silverman. A revival production opened on October 25, 2009, at the Nederlander Theatre with a plan to run in repertory with Broadway Bound, but closed on November 1, 2009, due to weak sales.
Neil Simon received Tony Awards for Biloxi Blues and Lost in Yonkers, and has received a total of fifteen Tony Award nominations for his work in shows such as Little Me, The Odd Couple, Sweet Charity, Plaza Suite, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, The Sunshine Boys, They're Playing Our Song and Broadway Bound. Neil Simon writes with an honesty and humanity that is timeless, and justifiably remains one of America's most successful and prolific playwrights. His plays are all to some extent a reflection of the his own life, often paying homage to his beloved New York City.
Set in 1937, Brighton Beach Memoirs is the story of 15-year-old Eugene Jerome who lives in a lower middle class neighborhood in Brighton Beach, New York, with his mother Kate, his father Jack, and 18-year-old brother Stanley. The house has also been home to his widowed Aunt Blanche (his mother's sister), and her two teenaged daughters Laurie and Nora for the past six years. The bulk of the plot surrounds Eugene's burgeoning sexual self-awareness and his father's efforts to support the extended family on his meager salary. The members of each of the three sets of siblingsStanley and Eugene, Laurie and Nora, and Kate and Blanchehave their own unique set of issues with one another. Regardless of their relationship issues, the drama of puberty, financial concerns, and the impending war, the family is held together by a great strength and love that makes this play endearing.
The two-story, cross-sectioned house designed by Richard Green for this production is a work of art. It truly looks like a completely functional, lived-in home plopped down on the stage for us to look into. Stoan Maslev is wonderful as Eugene. His focus, timing and character-acting ability show great maturity and promise. Will Watkins captures Stanley perfectly as well. He and Maslev are very believable as brothers. Stephanie Haber has a calm strength on stage whether paired with Steve d'Oliveira as her husband, or Amy Hoerler as her sister Blanche. The three actors interact beautifully together. Isabella Werber as Laurie Morton and Katherine Loretta McBroom as Nora both need to raise the bar on their performances as they seem quite two dimensional compared to the rest of the cast. Other than that, this is a great show.
Brighton Beach Memoirs will appear through December 13, 2009 at the Lake Worth Playhouse. The theatre is located at 713 Lake Ave. in Lake Worth, Florida. The Lake Worth Playhouse is a Resident Community Playhouse. Performance times are Thursdays, Fridays at 8:00 PM Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 2:00 and 7:00 PM. For tickets and/or more information about the theatre and its programs, you may contact them by phone at 561-586-6410 or online at www.lakeworthplayhouse.org.