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Brighton Beach is a Touching, and Entertaining Exploration of Family

Virginia Rep’s production of Brighton Beach Memoirs at Hanover Tavern has an important takeaway: Families matter, regardless of how many tensions arise in the household.

Playwright Neil Simon does a great job of combining family conflict and resolution with a good amount of humor in this semi-autobiographical show.

In the touching production, there are two families living under one roof. Jack and Kate Jerome and their two teenaged sons have invited Kate’s sister, Blanche, and her tween and teen daughters to stay with them. The living arrangements in the Depression-era home are tight, and the tensions that rise to the surface have the potential to tear the families apart.

Fifteen-year-old Eugene Jerome narrates his family’s story as it progresses. He has a vivid imagination and a creative mind. Like other boys his age, his hormones are raging, causing him to lust over the female body. His older brother, Stanley, serves as his teacher when it comes to all things concerning women and sexuality. The conversations between the two are downright hilarious.

Matriarch Kate shows tough love when it comes to her family. She’s stern but deep down has a good heart. Her husband, Jack, is weary after working two jobs and trying to be the sounding board for the family.

Meanwhile Blanche has been dependent on someone all of her entire life. That’s why she has difficulty making decisions in regard to her daughters, the oldest of which wants to leave school and audition for Broadway.

The cast for this show is solid and strong. There are no weak links. Both Meg Carnahan who plays Nora and Molly Nugent who plays her sister Laurie bring their teenage characters to life, aptly showing all the angst that goes with trying to gain some independence.

Trevor Craft’s honest approach to Stanley is sincere and believable. Sara Heifetz channels Blanche’s indecision and lack of confidence and turns it into a great performance.

Andrew Boothby as Jack and Jill Bari Steinberg as Kate feel like a real married couple that knows how to face challenges. Their performances are real and down-to-earth.

As curious Eugene, Tyler Stevens is a real standout. His energy and enthusiasm are electric. His comic timing is spot on.

Set Designer Terrie Powers hits it out of the park with her intricate and time-specific designs that include two levels of living space. Also integral to the play are Sue Griffin’s vintage costumes and Zach Townsend’s lighting.

You will cheer for the families in Brighton Beach Memoirs. The show is touching and entertaining, perfect for a summer evening. The show is best suited for children over twelve, and runs through August 28 at Hanover Tavern. Visit Virginia Rep for showtimes and tickets.


An award-winning writer based in Richmond, Joan Tupponce is a parent, grandparent, and self-admitted Disney freak. She writes about anything and everything and enjoys meeting inspiring people and telling their stories. Joan’s work has appeared in RFM since the magazine’s first issue in October 2009. Look for original and exclusive online articles about Richmond-area people, places, and ideas at Just Joan: RVA Storyteller.

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