BWW Review: BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS Charms at HUMAN RACE THEATRE COMPANY
Family. When all is said and done, all we have left is our family. This is the central message of BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS, currently in production at The Human Race Theatre Company at the Loft Theatre in Downtown Dayton.
BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS is the first play in Neil Simon's semi-autobiographical trilogy of plays, continued in BILOXI BLUES and BROADWAY BOUND. Set in 1937, it tells the story of the Jerome family, living in the largely Jewish community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York. The narrator of the story is the youngest Jerome son, Eugene. He lives with his parents, Jack and Kate, and his older brother Stanley, along with his Aunt Blanche and cousins Nora and Laurie. As the play begins, Eugene is concerned with his two loves, baseball and girls. As the show progresses, he learns what it means to not only grow up but to truly be part of a family.
Eric Deiboldt attacked the role of the naive Eugene with tremendous energy and humor which provided comic relief through the more serious moments of the show. Richard Buchanan showed great strength and vulnerability as older brother, Stanley. Sonia Perez was best as Blanche as she began to find her own voice and her life separate from her dead husband. Julie Murphy as Laurie and Katie Sinicki as Nora played lovely sisters, with the best scene being where they discussed their dead father.
The true foundation of this cast came with Rory Sheridan and Lisa Ann Goldsmith, as the Jerome parents. Rory showed us not only the sturdy workhorse, Jack, but his stern, fair parenting and his concern for the European Jews, as he follows the news of what is happening to friends and family in pre-World War II Europe. Rory allows Jack's fear for his family both near and far to drive his actions and the result is a beautifully nuanced character that could easily be flat and one note.
Perhaps because I am a mother, the character that I felt the most connected to was Kate, who is not only mother to her own children and wife to Jack but caretaker for her sister, Blanche and Blanche's daughters. Humor, anger, guilt, fear, concern, love, hurt - all emotions that you feel from Lisa Ann Goldsmith in any given sentence. Lisa Ann's performance was just beautiful and brought me to tears on several occasions. I felt all of her emotions along with her as she held nothing back. Truly, one of the best performances that I have ever seen.
Director Marya Spring Cordes did a lovely job giving the audience a cohesive ensemble that worked well together from beginning to end. Dan Gray's set made perfect use of the stage at the HRTC giving us an entire house on one set with nothing feeling cramped or confined. The set came alive with costumes by Dave Arevalo, lighting by John Rensel and sound by Jay Brunner.
You have six more opportunities to see BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS at the Human Race Theatre Company. Tickets are available at www.ticketcenterstage.com, in person at the box office located in the lobby of the Schuster Center or by phone at 937-228-3630. Don't miss your chance to see it.