2016 Reading Challenge, Book 1: Brighton Beach Memoirs – A play
One of the first films I remember watching as a young child is the 1986 film adaptation of Brighton Beach Memoirs starring Jonathan Silverman. I consider this film a huge part of my childhood and a major component in the culture of my family. To this day, we still shout out some of the great one liners from the film at family functions, such as: “SHE SAW ME ON THE CRAPPA!” or “PUT THE COOKIE ON THE TABLE!” I still dissolve into a puddle of giggles whenever I think about Eugene’s hormonal confessionals to the camera.
I saw so much truth—and the humor in that truth—throughout the film. It exposed truths about family life, puberty, growing up, love, and hardship that transcended the time period from which it was written and applied directly to my own burgeoning experiences. I continued to enjoy that film for many years and even into my adulthood, it still maintains a special place in my heart.
For these reasons, I decided to add this play to my reading challenge this year. I figured it was about time that I, lover of all things literary, went to the source for one of my favorite films—not to mention my interest in literary to film adaptation. I figured this would be a perfect fit, and I am happy to say I was correct.
I loved the play; I sat down and read it in an afternoon. It made me laugh aloud, it made me cry, and it gave me some serious pangs of nostalgia. As an adult, I found that I empathized with the parents more than I ever had watching the film as a child. I noticed the World War II and Great Depression references in ways I had not as a child, not having learned or understood what those events meant to so many people. I still enjoyed Eugene’s hyperbolized adolescent woes and laughed at his antics in a whole new way having now been the object of many hormone addled young men’s affections in my own teenage years.
In short, I loved the play as much as the film but I got to experience it at a different phase of my life and in a different form. I am so glad I had the opportunity to return to Brighton Beach and relive the experiences of this family. I know that I will be visiting many more times throughout my life. This is truly a favorite.