Death often comes in threes. Last week, we lost Aretha Franklin. Yesterday, we lost John McCain. Today, we lost one of the giants of theater, Neil Simon.
Neil Simon was born in July 4th, 1927 to Jewish parents. As an adult, he was known for creating dark comedies, some with a slightly biographical bent. He was one of the few writers to write for multiple mediums, he wrote for the stage, for film and for television.
Two of my favorite Neil Simon plays are The Odd Couple and Brighton Beach Memoirs.
The Odd Couple is about two divorced men who become roommates. Oscar is a slob and Felix is a neat freak. Despite these differences, somehow they get along, with hilarious results.
Brighton Beach Memoirs is set in 1937 in the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Brighton Beach. Eugene Morris Jerome is nearly 15; he is going through all of the trial and tribulations of being a teenager while living with his large and crazy family.
Neil Simon was 91. May his memory be a blessing.
There are some writers who are so iconic and so memorable, that it only takes a short time for the reader or the audience to figure out who the writer is. Neil Simon is one of those writers.
In 1986, one of his plays, Brighton Beach Memoirs, was made into a movie.
Eugene Morris Jerome (Jonathan Silverman) is a teenage boy living in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn before World War II. His house is rather crowded. In addition to his parents and elder brother, his widowed aunt and cousins share what is already a small house. Years later, as an adult, he is telling his story looking back on his days as a young man.
What I enjoy about this movie is that there is a universality of being a teenage boy or girl and the growth spurt, emotionally and physically that we all go through during those years. There is also an innocence to this story. While the characters have lived through the Great Depression, they do not know that World War II is just on the horizon.
I recommend it.