Friday, October 30, 2009
Brighton Beach Memoirs
photo: Joan Marcus
Fluid, beautiful and incredibly acted, David Cromer's staging of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs is easily the best Broadway revival of an American play since 2006's Awake and Sing. Those who read this blog know that I was one of the few who despised Cromer's deconstruction of Thorton Wilder's Our Town (also currently playing, at The Barrow Street Theatre), but he managed to convert me to his stripped-down style within minutes of the curtain rising at The Nederlander Theatre. What he does is more than merely simplifying Simon's manic text--which is, at times, everything from schticky to starkly dramatic--but also universalizing; anyone who views this production will be able to see their own family in the faces of the Jeromes. There's nary a weak link in the entire cast, but two particularly exquisite performances do manage to stick out: Laurie Metcalf infuses the role of Kate with all of the passion you'd expect from an operatic heroine, while still keeping her grounded and sympathetic (Tony, please); and, in his Broadway debut, Noah Robbins is unforgettable as the narrator and Simon stand-in, Eugene. In less than two weeks, Broadway Bound will begin to play in repertory--I simply cannot wait.
ETA: I'm very sad to report that, as of 8:30PM tonight, Brighton Beach Memoirs will close this coming Sunday, and Broadway Bound will not open. I am proud that I saw it and will remember it forever.