Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Brooklyn Boy"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Carl A. Rossi


"BROOKLYN BOY"

by Donald Margulies
directed by Adam Zahler

Eric Weiss … Victor Warren
Manny Weiss … David Kristin
Ira Zimmer … Ken Baltin
Nina … Debra Wise
Alison … Joy Lamberton
Melanie Fine … Ellen Colton
Tyler Shaw … Brad Smith

The themes of “Who am I?” and “You can’t go home, again” transcend geographical and cultural boundaries and Donald Margulies’ BROOKLYN BOY is a heartwarming, funny-sad comedy about Eric Weiss, a Jewish-American author who writes the bestselling, semi-autographical novel “Brooklyn Boy”; finally a success, Eric returns to his old neighborhood where his widowed father is dying, his estranged wife wants a divorce and the world he once knew has vanished, by and large, behind his back; in Hollywood, Eric abandons his “Brooklyn Boy” screenplay to the Fates after being told that it is too Jewish. Eric’s father dies but makes a ghostly return to heal their mutual grievances and bring Eric to closure. Mr. Margulies has written the loveliest dialogue to be heard in a many a season, the type that is hard to write so simply yet plays so effortlessly --- many an entertainment nowadays can freeze you with its gory, bleak or black-humored vision but Mr. Margulies has a Shakespearean soul and BROOKLYN BOY will make you laugh, heartily, but also melt you, pure and simple.

The Speakeasy production has been lovingly staged by Adam Zahler despite the fact that Victor Warren, a likeable fellow, is miscast as Eric (i.e. in tone and temperament, not in appearance), especially when placed alongside David Kristin’s father and Ken Baltin’s childhood friend, both of them flawless “neighborhood” portrayals --- ironically, Mr. Warren’s performance parallels Eric’s screenplay being cast with a blond surfer-type for “universal” appeal; Mr. Warren is affecting as an Everyman --- he just isn’t a Jewish Everyman. Debra Wise is very good as Eric’s wife, a cookie who has grown tough because Life has repeatedly shortchanged her, and the wonderful Ellen Colton is shrewdly hilarious as a two-faced Hollywood executive. Joy Lamberton and Brad Smith, two attractive youngsters, contribute near-cartoons as two Southern California types but, then, Mr. Margulies has written them from the outside-in --- the rest of BROOKLYN BOY is firmly written from the inside-out.

"Brooklyn Boy" (3 March - 1 April)
SPEAKEASY STAGE COMPANY
Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 933-8600

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide

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