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Napoli, Brooklyn

“Warm performances”

Inspired by her mother’s experiences growing up in a large Italian-American family, Meghan Kennedy’s play Napoli, Brooklyn (set in 1960 and performed Off-Broadway in 2017) is in the tradition of Betty Smith’s beloved 1943 coming-of-age novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, with its cast of strong women navigating their ways through poverty, dreams and disasters.

Under the thumb of patriarch Nic (Robert Cavanah), sharp-witted middle daughter Vita (a charismatic Georgia May Foote) has been exiled to a convent after sustaining severe injuries defending her younger sister from their father’s wrath. Deadpan eldest sister Tina (Mona Goodwin) discovers the possibility of night school, and 16-year-old Francesca (Hannah Bristow) is joyously in love with her best friend Connie (Laurie Ogden), with whom she schemes to run away to France.

Lisa Blair’s production features a host of warm performances and she does a credible job at bringing the multiple, somewhat unruly plot strands together. She captures the tenderness of Francesca’s first, all consuming love particularly well.

Frankie Bradshaw’s design is initially a streamlined evocation of cramped living conditions, which descends into clutter and chaos following the disaster that brings the first half to a standstill and a Christmas dinner from hell.

The production is anchored by Madeleine Worrall’s careworn mamma Luda, a formidable cook who is so desensitised to a life of hardship and abuse that not even rubbing a cut onion on her eye triggers tears, yet she still retains a twinkle. Her favourite English phrase is “no problem”, because it “makes forgiveness sound very easy”. But comfort food and platitudes have their limits.

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Production Details
Production nameNapoli, Brooklyn
VenuePark Theatre
StartsJune 13, 2019
EndsJuly 13, 2019
Running time2hrs 10mins
AuthorMeghan Kennedy
DirectorLisa Blair
Set designerFrankie Bradshaw
Costume designerFrankie Bradshaw
Lighting designerJohanna Town
Sound designerMax Pappenheim
CastMadeleine Worrall, Gloria Onitiri, Georgia May Foote, Hannah Bristow, Laurie Ogden, Mona Goodwin, Robert Cavanah, Stephen Hogan
ProducerPark Theatre, Theatre Company
VerdictEngaging, if overstuffed family drama that celebrates female fortitude
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Julia Rank

Julia Rank

Julia Rank

Julia Rank

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