Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs can be considered as a semi-autobiographical play because the writer inserted his childhood memories of living in New York before the World War II. The play differs much from other Simon’s works because it represents a combination of two genres uniting skilful characterizations and humor. Brighton Beach Memoirs narrates the story about Eugene Jeromes, a boy who is dreaming to become a great baseball player or, in case of failure, an outstanding writer.
The play also discloses the problems of the Jerome family whose actions and deeds are skillfully supplemented by refined humorous situations and sufficient emotional charge. Brighton Beach Memoirs is a coming-of-age play where Eugene cannot be defined whether he is an adult or a child. The hero fells that all his ambitions fail because of his mother’s pressure.
Eugene has still difficulties in making his choice; he wants to fulfill himself in two completely different professions thus showing that he is unable to be responsible for his life. As an example it is possible to present the quarrel between Eugene and his mother revealing that each character has his/her unique image of the way the world should work: “Eugene: It’s the last batter Mom. Mel Ott is up. It’s a crucial moment in the World Series history. Kate: Your Aunt Blanche has a splitting headache” (Simon 4).
The actor’s play cannot be considered the pink of perfection, but it managed to render Eugene’s searches and transformations. The wide range of his interest is constantly changing the actor skillfully conveys all those transformations. The actor has a deep sense of timing and space so that he could fluently deliver all humorously and emotionally colored scenes. His theatrical proficiency helps him disclose the character’s experiences while interacting with other characters.
More importantly, the acting style accurately rendered the historical and culture context of the events. The interaction between Kate and Eugene shows an antagonistic polarity and both heroes represent the example of generation gap. In the end, it should also be stressed that the actor skillfully addresses the audience and immediately renders the “memories” about Jerome’s childhood. In general, the proficient cast made the beginning and the ending parts a valuable experience.
The directing of the play managed to extend the subtext through the portrayal of actors as adults and children. In particular, the director provides an original approach to Eugene transformations through the observation of his past and future perspectives. The directing team effectively presented the composition of the play. In particular, the play slightly deviate from the original script and the pircturization was accurately rendered through various scientific devices and techniques.
In order to enhance the humorous effect, the director author-justified tweaks and aisles to create the link between the play and the original script. In addition, the director strived to render the play as the funnier property through deploying Eugene as the representative of the financial dynasty. He did not only include all members of the family, including father Jack, mother Kate, Eugene’s older brother Stanley, but other important characters that supplement the overall ideas of the play.
The directing team did not take the risk to deviate from the play’s setting and plot and, therefore, it tried to preserve historic, cultural, and social context. Although the play was more humor-oriented as compared with the original variant, the setting and the atmosphere reminded of the times and events before the World War II. In particular, everything from the traditional furniture and costumes to make up and decorations were closely related to that period of time.
The scene design was presented in brown gamma of colors that is typical of the 40s of the past century. Such a decorations would highlight the caring and the warmth of the family relations, notwithstanding some stressed from the inside and outside world. The scenery emphasis was the home interior reflecting a warm color pallet. The exterior, however, was also represented through roofing section and provided the lighting that also reflected all the interior tendencies.
Due to the fact that theatre is nothing but a black box, the bulk of the decoration area was slightly alienated from the audience. The costumes fitted well in the overall atmosphere presenting the same palette color. In general, the director strived to engage the audience into the performance so that each person viewing the play could participate in the events taking place on the stage.
In general, the plot was structure carefully and the directing managed to reach an old-fashioned effect. All the problems of the play were also carefully revealed, they involve the reader in the flow of events and conflicts where the culmination and denouement were also thoroughly arranged.
The portrayal of crowed daily life and routine, however, partially resembled of the 80s American family. Besides, the play was richly endowed with details and carefully designed costumes to involve the audience in the pre-war times. Despite the excellent directing and acting, some elements of the original script were lost due to the discrepancies in genres and techniques.
Simon, Neil. Brighton Beach Memoirs. US: Plume, 1995.