The set-up was much the same as it was last year, the audience on stage with the set, cast and crew to create a more intimate environment. This time, however, there were theater seats to allow enough room for comfortable observance of the outstanding performances offered by the Neil Simon acting company.
The play started out in the living room of the Jerome family in Brighton Beach, N.Y. during a time when family meant everything and a woman’s identity primarily revolved around caring for her hearth.
Kate Jerome (Carrie Morgan) is looking toward her golden years a with less than exuberant approach, as her two sons are outgrowing the home, and her husband, Jack (Richard Hill), is distancing himself further and further from the family.
Having already directed the first two plays in the “Double B series,” (Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues) for the festival, Richard Bugg, festival founder, said they were happy to have Director Matt Neves back to complete the third play this year.
“One thing about being the founder of a festival I have learned over the years is that it is very much like what a new mother goes through when delivering a baby,” Bugg said. “It is such a long, exhausting, stressful labor and when it is all over it feels so good that by the next year I forget how painful it was the year before and do it all over again.”
As the story unfolded it was hard not to feel for Kate’s plight and wonder why her husband, who was obviously having an affair, would throw away 33 years of marriage and family for some woman he met while out to lunch one day who was on her death bed anyway.
The serious nature of the discussion was thankfully lightened by the humor of the Jeromes two sons, Eugene (Jake Koeppl) and Stanley (Travis Cox), who were working on their comedy writing debut for their big break with CBS.
Their grandfather (Bob Nelson), a stout socialist living in a capitalist world, who is less than impressed at his grandson’s humor, is a delightful straight-man whose presence would be sorely missed if he actually went to Florida early on as his other daughter Blanche (Shelly Truax) had encouraged.
The ambiance left a feeling of being transported in time to a day when life was simpler than it is now. It’s funny how some mistake simpler for easier. The tribulations of the Jerome family still hit home even today, making their story timeless and easy to identify with. Overall the cast and crew pulled together a delightful production that left the audience buzzing in the halls well after the play had ended.
For tickets and show times go to www.simonfest.org or call 327-8673.