Pin It
Favorite

THEATER | Brighton Beach Memoirs 

click to enlarge Interplayers cast performs Neil Simon\'s classic. - CHRIS BOVEY
  • Chris Bovey
  • Interplayers cast performs Neil Simon\'s classic.

The Broadway set of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs was barely in storage when the play received its Northwest premiere at Interplayers in 1986. That was the professional theater’s sixth season, and Memoirs had proven such a hit that, at just shy of 1,300 performances, it had run for half of Interplayers’ existence.

Twenty-seven years on, Simon has several film adaptations (the only popular gauge of a play’s true merit, it seems) as well as Tony Awards and a Pulitzer to his name. And Interplayers, having weathered its recent sky-is-falling hardships, is clearly still around too. Its 33rd season is a conscious attempt to regroup by staging material that is tried and tested. Or staid, if you’re feeling uncharitable.

Directed by Interplayers’ go-to guy Michael Weaver, Brighton Beach Memoirs is a fair indication that the theater’s retreat into the conventional was a good move. Though meticulously tidy and about as revelatory as a fortune cookie, Simon’s play nevertheless mixes humor, drama and pathos in equally satisfying parts. In this production, Nich Witham plays oversexed 15-year-old narrator Eugene Jerome as hyperactively exuberant instead of the more common take, introspective and despondent. That makes Witham’s Gene slightly more fun to watch, but he also appears more child than adolescent at the expense of credibility.

Newcomer Phoenix Tage is excellent as older brother Stan, sober pragmatist to Gene’s affable idealism and innocence. Samantha Camp is exquisite: Her matriarch Kate is flawed in all the necessary ways to be sympathetic and human. There’s her unrelenting sternness that so rankles Gene, her seething resentment that leads to the explosion with sister Blanche (Rebecca Goldberg), her exasperated devotion to husband Jack (Christopher Zinovitch), her weariness in keeping a Depression-era household together.

It’s hard to fault Weaver’s unobtrusive direction, though one wishes he’d urged Zinovitch and Sarah Uptagrafft (who plays Gene’s cousin and impossible objet du désir, Nora) to drop their iffy Brooklyn accents. Scott Doughty’s set, on the other hand, is functional and apt. With its yellows, browns and olive drab surrounded by a low brick perimeter, there’s little doubt we’re in 1930s working-class New York.

Brighton Beach Memoirs • Through Oct. 12: Wed-Sat, 7:30 pm; Sun, 2 pm • $28 ($22 senior/military, $12 student) • Interplayers • 174 S. Howard St. • 455-7529 • interplayerstheatre.org

  • Pin It

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • In the Line of Fire
  • In the Line of Fire

    The Spokane Firefighters Memorial Project reminds us of those who died in their duty to protect
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Through His Eyes
  • Through His Eyes

    Dean Davis' show at the MAC is a survey of the region's artistic talents
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    Creepy games, financial podcast pick and an important book
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
MicroCinema Event

MicroCinema Event @ Spokane INK Art Space

Thu., Dec. 18

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by E.J. Iannelli

  • Silent Night on the Western Front
  • Silent Night on the Western Front

    All Is Calm beautifully retells the Christmas Truce of 1914 through song, poetry and letters
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • BOOKS
  • BOOKS

    Because everyone should always be reading something
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Captain Planet

    Recycle Man is making the world a little better for people and mascots alike, one bottle at a time
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • Neighborhood Feel

    The Backyard brings a cozy bar to West Central
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • More »

Top Tags in
Culture & Food

Culture


Digest


last word


Food


for your consideration


© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation