It’s September 1937, and the Jerome family of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, is gathering for dinner. Matriarch Kate rules the roost, with younger son Eugene at her beck and call. Older son Stanley arrives home with his job hanging by a thread after an argument with his boss. Patriarch Jack works two jobs and worries about supporting an extended family of seven, including his widowed sister-in-law, Blanche, and her daughters, Nora and Laurie. Meanwhile, Eugene daydreams about pitching for the Yankees and becoming professional writer. Brighton Beach Memoirs shows us two evenings, a week apart, in the life of the Jeromes, as war threatens and each family member faces a personal challenge.
What Is Brighton Beach Memoirs Like?
This autobiographical work, first produced on Broadway in 1983, is Neil Simon’s most heartwarming comedy. Young Eugene (a character based on the playwright) provides most of the laughs via his interaction with others and in humorous narration delivered directly to the audience. But all seven characters get the chance to shine as they reveal unique quirks and play off one another. This Broadway revival boasts a gorgeously realistic two-story house set, period costumes and sensitive performances that emphasize the drama as well as the comedy in Simon’s script. Overall, it’s a very satisfying evening of theater.
Is Brighton Beach Memoirs Good for Kids?
School-age kids will find lots to enjoy in a play that features a sympathetic young narrator. Eugene and Stanley share a couple of scenes that center on brotherly talk about masturbation and what naked women look like, but the dialogue is on the tame side compared to TV sitcoms.