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A CurtainUp Review
The play is about a Polish family, which does establish the Bridesburg connection, but the poverty and dysfunction of the family is one that this reviewer does not necessarily associate with Bridesburg. With that said, it’s clear that for Kaufold, Bridesburg does represent poverty in the United States with its accompanying destruction of the family and corruption of the individual.
Janet (Susan Ferrara) is the bitter, ineffectual single parent of Matt (Jeff Barry), an angry alcoholic; and Cat (Brianne Moncrief) an angry adolescent. Matt shows his anger through sullen fits and explosive exits. Cat expresses hers by pretending she’s a black kid from the hood. Matt is married to Kay (Mizuo Peck), a smart Asian woman who has made two big mistakes, marrying Matt and getting pregnant. Cat has a boyfriend, Mitchell (Julian Joseph) who really is a black kid from the hood, although instead of complaining about his life, he is actually working to change it.
There’s one more person in the play. That's Janet’s husband, a man who does not actually appear on stage but whose desertion after Cat's birth may be presumed to have caused the family’s decline. According to Cat, her father left her “crazy-ass mom with two kids” as soon as she “popped.” And she cautions Kay that her no good brother may do the same.
The Burzynskis may be representative of the working (or sometimes working, as Matt eventually is fired) poor in this country. As case studies in textbooks or in newspaper articles, they would be easy to pity. However as characters in a play they need to be presented more sympathetically to engage our empathy. But thanks to Kaufold’s repetitive and brutish dialogue, coupled with poor acting and director Jack Young’s inability to control his actors’ excesses, the characters are as like to engender contempt than compassion.
Moncrief’s stagey imitation of poor blacks is overdone and insulting to blacks and whites alike. Barry’s rendering of a belligerent drunk loser could have been picked up from any number of bad movies or soap operas.
Even more troubling, Bridesburg is like a soap opera without a plot. For the first two thirds of the play, nothing happens. When the inevitable violence does it erupt, it unfortunately does not result in any changes in the characters’ lives or outlook.
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