The following Cappies review is by Levi Cole of NSU University School
Being a teenager is challenging enough as is, but with the addition of the hardships of the Great Depression and the looming possibility of war, any teen’s life would become drastically more difficult. In Coral Glades’ production of Brighton Beach Memoirs, Eugene Morris Jerome must face the adversity of growing up while simultaneously coping with consistent family conflict and the political and economic turmoil of the times.
Written by illustrious comedic playwright Neil Simon, Brighton Beach Memoirs is a semi-autobiographical comedy which first debuted on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre in 1983. The story follows young Eugene Morris Jerome and his family as they struggle to stay afloat financially and keep the family from breaking apart. With an amazing balance of drama and comedy, Brighton Beach Memoirs perfectly captures the troubles of adolescence.
As Eugene, the awkward but lovable teen protagonist, Matthew Dell-Hak displayed tremendous comedic timing and character development. Dell-Hak expertly balanced comedy with drama, demonstrating his outstanding range. His mannerisms and physicality brought Eugene to life. Dell-Hak remained in character, even when Eugene was not the center of attention. Dell-Hak formed impressively believable relationships with the rest of the Jerome family, notably with his brother Stanley, further exhibiting his talent.
Tai Beasley did an extraordinary job of presenting a vast array of emotions as Kate, Eugene’s sweet yet strict mother. Beasley’s amazing diction and intonation added to her impressive understanding of her character. Similar to Dell-Hak, Beasley consistently remained in character, when the focus of attention and when not, demonstrated by her well thought out physicality and mannerisms. Portraying Eugene’s older brother Stanley, Joshua Flynn perfectly captured his character. Flynn demonstrated his vast acting range, showing his ability as a comic and dramatic actor. The dynamic between Stanley and his younger brother displayed amazing chemistry between the two actors, resulting in some of the most memorable moments of the production. Caleb Ramey, portraying Eugene’s father, Jack, showed incredible commitment and understanding of his role, demonstrated by his physicality. He accurately portrayed the understanding and authoritative nature of his character, resulting in a memorabl
e and powerful performance. As Nora, Eugene’s ambitious and stubborn older cousin, Julyette Vargas demonstrated her extensive acting range. Vargas showed commendable commitment and character development throughout the production, while also creating believable and captivating relationships with other characters.
The Jerome family as a whole had an incredible dynamic and collaborated extremely well together. They possessed a beautiful chemistry onstage, resulting in a remarkable collaborative performance. Despite continuous sound and microphone issues, the cast maintained their energy and never allowed the audience’s immersion to falter.
All of the costumes in this production were expertly designed and constructed by Jamie Metoyer. The costumes perfectly fit into the 1930’s New York setting and fit the actors very well. Brielle Bickford must also be commended for props. The use of real food was extremely clever and added authenticity to vital scenes of the production.
Coral Glades’ production of Brighton Beach Memoirs was packed with humor, touching family connections, effective technical elements, and memorable performances, accurately encapsulating the trials and tribulations of growing up.