Napoli, Brooklyn at Park Theatre
Sometimes even the best production cannot save a play. Here we have a very strong director in Lisa Blair portraying a gorgeous set with designer Frankie Bradshaw and extremely atmospheric sound and music with Max Pappenheim. Coupled with that is a top-notch cast consisting of talented and passionate individuals who had best served their skills elsewhere. Alas and alack, none of this is good enough to save the script.
Napoli, Brooklyn just isn’t particularly original. A family of first-generational immigrants struggles to make ends meet and suffers under the yoke of the patriarch Nic (Robert Cavanah) who desperately needs to take some anger management classes. His three daughters Francesca (Hannah Bristow), Tina (Mona Goodwin) and Vita (Georgia May Foote), meanwhile, are completely Americanised and strive for some form of independence, whereas their mother Luda (Madeleine Worrall) tries to mediate between the two parties, until she finally turns her back on Nic.
A lack of originality doesn’t necessarily make a bad play. Adding stereotypes doesn’t help, however. Most of the characters are entirely two-dimensional beings with a single personality trait and undergo hardly any development. There are exceptions to this rule – such as Tina, who befriends her new co-worker Celia (Gloria Onitiri), developing into a truly heart-warming friendship, or Nic, who decides to leave his family behind when he realises he can’t help but be… well, nasty.
To make matters worse, the entire plot is contrived. Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but here the audience is asked to take seriously a scenario where a plane crashes near to where the family lives, while Nic is falling out of a third floor window and survives, on the same day as his lesbian daughter Francesca was going to run away with her girlfriend Connie (Laurie Ogden). Oh, and the latter’s brother is also killed in the crash.
No – Napoli, Brooklyn is, in many respects, just plain silly. If it were a comedy it wouldn’t be so bad, but while some of the lines are genuinely humorous, for the most part, it takes itself way too seriously. Altogether this is a forgettable experience, despite a lovely cast who should definitely star in something else together at some other time to develop their beautiful chemistry.
Photo: Marc Brenner
Napoli, Brooklyn is at Park Theatre from 13th June until 13th July 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.