Brighton Beach Memoirs is a play about a fourteen-year-old boy growing up in Brooklyn, New York, during an era of comparative innocence, in the years just prior to the American involvement in World War II. Eugene wants to be a writer—or a baseball player, if he can play for “the Yankees, or the Cubs, or the Red Sox, or maybe possibly the Tigers.”
Neil Simon captures not only an era of innocence but also an age of innocence, as a young boy grows into manhood. The audience shares in those private moments that men go through as they reach puberty and pass on into manhood. Nora represents the glory of Eugene’s newfound interests. She symbolizes every man’s first love. “If I had my choice between a tryout with the Yankees and actually seeing her bare breasts for two and a half seconds, I would have some serious thinking to do.”
During the first act the audience listens in as Stanley and Eugene talk about such things as girls and masturbation. “There’s nothing wrong with it,” Stanley assures his brother. “Everybody does it. Especially at our age.” Later, in act 2, Stanley gives Eugene a postcard of a nude woman. In his memoirs Eugene writes, “October the second, six twenty-five p.m. A momentous moment in the life of I, Eugene Morris Jerome. I have seen the Golden Palace of the Himalayas . . . Puberty is over. Onward and upwards!” So ends the play.
In addition to the joy...
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