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Monday, 25 June 2012 15:36

The world premiere of 'Brooklyn Bagatelle'

Written by Shahnaz Ahmed
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firstruntheatre.com
firstruntheatre.com

First Run Theatre’s production of Brooklyn Bagatelle by Neville Mur was a powerful dramatic comedy about the Marr family and the generational conflicts that take place within.

The play starts with Anita Lippman (as Sarah Marr) and Cliff Mirabella (as Jacob Marr) discussing their three sons, especially their youngest Nathan (played by Jared Goudsmit).  The parents compare Nathan to their two older sons Ronnie (played by Time Drier) and Ira Marr (played by Michael Beal).  The conflicts of the play begin after Jacob has a heart-to-heart with his son Nathan about Nathan’s upcoming  Bar Mitzwah.  Other themes are weaved in, all relating to family relationships:  sibling-sibling, father-son, mother-son and husband-wife.  As these relationships are explored, the crux of the play—generational conflicts—become apparent.

I felt a lot of the first act tried to establish the characters and their roles within the family, but once it got going, one could feel something building.  I was very impressed by the strong second act.  I felt this play’s dramatic arc just before intermission but was pleasantly surprised when it continued arcing and hit its dramatic high point later in the second act.  Once the second act started the play felt faster and tighter.  In general, I would say this play had a solid feel to it.

I must state that this would also be considered a Jewish play.  There were a lot of Jewish themes - even the program notes had a glossary of terms, but I feel the conflicts presented in this play could potentially be universal.  Who hasn’t heard of a father and a son not agreeing on a particular issue with regards to the son’s future?  That’s not an exclusively Jewish concept, but I felt the play was trying to connect the theme of generational conflicts as an exclusive Jewish immigrant issue.

Actor choices were brilliant and Jim Meady, the director, must be very proud of his team.  All actor performances were very good and there were several scenes were it was quite apparent that direction made the scene much better.

Set design by Jim Meady and Brad Slavik was excellent also.  There was a kitchen with a dining table and to stage right was a set up of a bedroom suitable for a twelve year old child.  The strength in the set comes from its authenticity of the period (1940s) it portrayed, down to the  toaster, the refrigerator, the dial telephone, stand mixer and the radio.  I must also add that the food the characters were eating appeared realistic.  I wondered if the crew had a dishwasher backstage because it seemed like the characters were actually eating real food on real china.  The glass milk jug in the refrigerator being emptied a little at a time was a very nice touch. 

Lights and sounds worked very well.

All in all, this was a good play to watch and appreciate.  If you like strong family conflicts, this play is for you.

Brooklyn Bagatelle continues at DeSmet Theatre through July 1st.  For more information, you may visit firstruntheatre.com.

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