Brighton Beach Memoirs by Ridley High School in Folsom, PA
November 15, 2018
Review submitted by Anji Cooper of Academy of the New Church
What do you get when you toss together a tedious living situation with a boatload of drama and a dash of comedy? Brighton Beach Memoirs, passionately brought to life by Ridley High School.
The first chapter in his renowned Eugene Trilogy, Brighton Beach Memoirs is a semi-autobiographical play written by Neil Simon. The show first premiered on Broadway in 1983, and subsequently won two Tony Awards for Best Direction and Featured Actor in a Play. Set in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York in 1937, the play follows the volatile lives of the Jerome-Morton family as they deal with various issues such a misunderstandings, puberty, poverty and simply living together in a cramped house.
Ridley High School’s production combined classic family drama with just the right amount of humor to bring Brighton Beach Memoirs to life with fervent poignancy. Showcasing dedicated actors and impressive technical aspects, this is a show you will not want to miss.
Tyler Motlasz (Eugene Jerome) took the role of being the narrator and a hormonal teenage boy in stride. He brought affability to his character, winning the audience’s heart with his curious nature and sassy delivery.
The cast upheld Jewish Brooklyn accents for the duration of the show, firmly captivating the audience in their world. All actors possessed a very realistic family dynamic with each other, making the situation relatable to its viewers. Mikayla Cook stood out with her portrayal of the no-nonsense Kate Jerome. At first, she appeared to simply be a stern mother, but as the show continued on, Cook peeled back the layers of her character to reveal a caring woman cracking under the pressure of being responsible for so many lives. Phillip Impriano (Stanley Jerome) impressed with his ability to create palpable tension in vital scenes while playing a multidimensional character, ranging from a smug, all-knowing elder brother to an ashamed and broken boy. Though Stanley had his flaws, Impriano made it impossible not to empathize with him.
A lot of research behind the scenes aided in building a realistic world. Serenity Peterson looked into Neil Simon’s background, and studied the period of the show as well as all of the characters’ developments to assist the actors in understanding their roles. Impressively enough, every actor on stage had an individual microphone. This daunting task of managing the sound was taken on by the RDG Sound Crew. While the production suffered from some microphone issues at the beginning, the complications were soon smoothed out and only improved as the show continued on.
Ridley High School’s Brighton Beach Memoirs exhibited a notably talented cast and ambitious technical aspects. The show was sentimental and full of heart, leaving its audience with a profound sense of family.
Review submitted by Sarah Eckstein Indik of Barrack Hebrew Academy
Arguing, tension, and a disgusting meal for dinner – does that sound like a typical evening? Well, for Eugene in Brighton Beach Memoirs, that’s an ordinary night spent with family, illustrated wonderfully by Ridley High School’s theater company.
Written by Neil Simon, Brighton Beach Memoirs is a semi-autobiographical, comedic play, depicting the life of a young teenage boy living in 1937 Brooklyn. Eugene Jerome, the son in a lower-middle-class Jewish family, feels stuck in mundaneness, having big dreams of the Yankees and girls. Cramped in close quarters with his mother, father, brother, aunt, and two cousins, it is not uncommon to have arguments. Composed of normal familial dysfunction, this play is extremely relatable to all types of audiences.
Overall, Brighton Beach Memoirs was lovely to watch. With the palpable chemistry between all the actors, they conjured a genuine family.
Eugene Jerome, portrayed by Tyler Motlasz, captured the pubescent energy of a young teen making his way through a sea of new experiences; taking the audience along in his narration of the world, he made them laugh. Throughout the show, Motlasz masterfully utilized a Brooklyn accent, creating a more realistic portrayal. His mother, Kate Jerome, characterized by Mikayla Cook, was the master of her household and the audience, with quick quips and honesty, the crowd reacted to her every movement. She admirably employed a thick Brooklyn accent when speaking all of her lines, adding to the ambiance of the setting.
Another highlight was that of forlorn Blanche Morton, Eugene’s aunt, performed by Mackenzie Cannon, who adopted the physicality of a frail woman and skillfully used a Brooklyn accent, expertly encapsulating the desperation of a mother who cannot provide for her own children. As a family unit, the company earnestly explored their relationships, generating authentic connections on stage and forming scenes filled with laughter. Despite some microphone errors in the beginning, the cast and crew persevered, fixing and adjusting the problems efficiently. Additionally, at times, the cast stumbled with their lines or dropped the ends of their sentences, but the scenes and sentences were completely understood nonetheless.
The crew of this show’s work was praiseworthy. Coming in on time, all cues were well-executed, with radio music serving as background to monologues and spotlights shining on the actors.
In Ridley High School’s production of Brighton Beach Memoirs, the hilarity in everyday situations and hardships was delightfully displayed.