"Brighton Beach Memoirs" at Clackamas Community College is once again a truly ambitious undertaking, rivaling their last production of Neighborhood 3:Requisition of Doom, again directed by James Eikrem with a set by Chris Whitten. This one is the multi-room home of the Jerome family, the alter-egos of Neil Simon's own.
"Brighton Beach Memoirs" is the first in Simon's trilogy known as the Eugene Plays, after his own character, Eugene Morris Jerome. This play concerns Eugene's adolescence, followed by his service in World War II in "Biloxi Blues" and finally his fledgling career as a writer in "Broadway Bound."
The cast is top-notch. Branden McFarland is a ceaselessly likable Eugene. Jayne Hall is the elder brother, Stanley, whose main function is to be a fount of endless "adult" knowledge for Eugene. Halley Houser is a stoic and endearing Kate, the family matriarch, a perfect match for her wise, yet stubborn husband, Jack. Blanche Morton (Jennifer Whitten ) is Kate's sister and complete opposite--frail and asthmatic--but sympathetic nonetheless. Her daughters, Nora and Laurie complete the out-sized brood, the younger daughter shares her mother's frailty, while the elder provides oh-so forbidden fantasy for Eugene.
Unfortunately, once again, I saw a late performance, and the show is now closed. But, the production was so well received that I hold out hope that they may make their way through the trilogy. If they do, I will be sure to give you a heads-up, because it will doubtlessly be worth seeing.