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Napoli, Brooklyn

From 26 critic and 277 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

About the show

The Roundabout Theatre Company presents a new play about sisterhood, freedom, and forgiveness set in 1960s Brooklyn. More…

The Muscolinos have raised three proud and passionate daughters. But as the girls come of age in a rapidly changing world, their paths diverge—in drastic and devastating ways—from their parents’ deeply traditional values. Despite their fierce love, each young woman harbors a secret longing that, if revealed, could tear the family apart. When an earth-shattering event rocks their Park Slope neighborhood, life comes to a screeching halt and the Muscolino sisters are forced to confront their conflicting visions for the future.

More Than The Play Blog

“Kennedy’s characters are tender, bold, brave, and daring. Director Gordon Edelstein creates an atmosphere that is authentic, honest, and real. The tumultuous events of the play are emotionally riveting, and the message will touch your heart...This entire cast is superb…If you want to see a heartwarming story that will move you and leave you with a message of strength and endurance, this is the play to see.” Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"The family drama is steadily involving and, even though it can at times feel over-jammed with conflict and events, it carries the ring of truth...Edelstein handles all of the action smoothly...Nothing seems overly contrived...All cast members distinguish themselves, but I am especially impressed by Bresnahan as Luda...As family sagas go, Kennedy has given us a very absorbing one filled with sharp dialogue, insights, and characters tailor-made for good acting opportunities." Full Review

Theater Life

“In ‘Napoli, Brooklyn’ playwright Meghan Kennedy creates the vivid ongoing life of Brooklyn in the 1960s…Shades of Neil Simon’s Brooklyn stories and Arthur Miller’s 'A View from the Bridge' infuse Kennedy’s stinging sense of realism. Yet her voice is unique…Director Gordon Edelstein has built a tight ensemble…Kennedy sets her sights well beyond the family drama and the violence that infuses it.” Full Review

LA Splash

"Fiery and emotionally heartbreaking...The acting in the production is outstanding...You do care very much about each character in this play. This family could be Irish, Jewish, or any other ethnicity...Because of the deep issues each of the characters possess, it becomes a bit overwhelming as the stories either need more time or there needs to be fewer stories to inhale. You care about these characters and want to see complete resolution. The second act is a powerhouse in many ways." Full Review


“An earnest, somewhat boring slice of life…Then a shocking event closes the first act and completely changes everything…Injecting the play with a shot of adrenaline that carries it through to the end…This first-rate cast does its best with the sleepy, somewhat clichéd writing…If Edelstein's staging occasionally seems is only because he is saving up his magic for the best part. That deus ex machina is really the most compelling reason to see the show. Seriously, it's incredible." Full Review


"The short scenes each taking place in a different part of Park Slope are part of the problem with the new play. Told in a great many vignettes used to establish various pieces of information, the play's seven sets are all depicted on stage simultaneously. Not only does the stage seem cluttered even in Eugene Lee's skeletal set design, but 'Napoli, Brooklyn' plays like a movie script and will probably make a much better film." Full Review


“Kennedy has come up with a doozie of a deus ex machina for her initially meandering, ultimately rewarding family drama...These tribulations are spelled out through a series of scenes unfolding during the play’s first half. However, the continual shifting of locales and the brevity of the scenes themselves, lend the storytelling a choppy, remote feeling, Things, however, come together wonderfully with breathtaking intensity in the play’s second half." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"Under Gordon Edelstein’s controlled direction, the many scenes have a cumulative effect so that by the final curtain, we feel part of this family...This all could have played out as a colorful soap opera were it not for the very detailed work of Meghan Kennedy...Her talent for characterization is evident throughout, and if there is any lack in this warm family comedy, it is in its lack of structure...It is, in total, a praiseworthy paean to the feminist movement." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“An intense new play...Kennedy, an ambitious playwright, is tackling a number of themes…The cast does valiantly in this action-packed melodrama that tackles so much – family, marital abuse, immigration, feminism, same-sex love, and unanticipated catastrophe. Central to it all is Luda, played with passion and conviction by Alyssa Bresnahan – a woman who becomes the feminist mouthpiece of a beleaguered generation.” Full Review


“Park Slope circa 1960 is a vanished world, one which is movingly recreated in this production…A coming-of-age tale touching on freshly resonant issues of integration and assimilation…Alyssa Bresnahan delivers a poignant and at times funny performance as the matriarch…The disparate script occasionally plods, particularly early on, but after a quite literally explosive end to act one, the pace picks up appreciably…After a halting start, 'Napoli, Brooklyn' eventually finds its footing.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"A sweet coming-of-age story...The cast is terrific...Each actor in their own way creates a three-dimensional character...Edelstein’s excellent direction keeps the play moving...Kennedy’s dialogue seems unrealistic at times, but has a lot of heart. This stereotypical drama is also an intimate portrait of the immigrant working-class life, though it seems more like a Hallmark TV movie than a major Off-Broadway play." Full Review


“Kennedy is more than capable of incisive characterizations, smart dialogue, and revealing the depths hidden beneath the surface…Even though (almost) everyone changes in some way, some of the transformations seem too sudden. And while some of the characters’ behaviors are clearly spurred by the out-of-the-blue Act I incident, Kennedy doesn’t make as full use of it as one might expect...Still, we do become heavily invested in the fate of this family." Full Review

Front Row Center

“‘Napoli, Brooklyn’ has the palpable sense of someone’s actual family story…The cataclysm that shocks the audience into intermission is stunning…Luda delivers the last speech with an exquisite tenderness speaking of her child, her daughter, and all daughters, all women. I was moved. That said, when the curtain falls, there is something missing…While there is much substance here, one is hungry for more substantial resolution. It is a good pasta meal, but it is not the Seven Fishes.” Full Review

Time Out New York

“The prose is sometimes purple and the exposition is sometimes bald. Yet thanks to sensitive performances, Kennedy’s mechanics frequently work as designed, cranking up the stakes and delivering vivid emotional moments on cue…Kennedy is good at sensation scenes…The rest of the text is weaker, but director Gordon Edelstein is blessed with a cast that evokes authentic feeling. They dance us around in that old melodrama two-step: They cry, we cry, and we all feel a little better.” Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"It suffers from too much plot and too many characters...My many reservations include a gratuitous SM scene with a lit cigarette, an unclear explication of the circumstances of one character’s departure and a feminist pep talk at the end that seemed anachronistic at best. Furthermore, something is amiss when the most touching moment in the play is a brief exchange between two peripheral characters. Gordon Edelstein's direction was a bit sluggish." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“While the multiple…strands tend to weaken the…emotional impact, the writing is often too self-conscious to fully engage…belief. Giving Luda a habit of revealing her fear of losing her faith by having her speak to an onion…is a disturbing bit of whimsy…For all their assumed difficulties with English, Nic and Luda's vocabulary and syntax strain credibility…These flaws could easily be overlooked if the company wasn't so disparate in its ability to recreate this specific time and place.” Full Review

The New York Times

“Eventful, often sweet but ultimately overwrought…Almost everything that happens after the disaster feels even falser than the onion…None of these changes have been justified in terms of character, only calamity. The story thus ends up shrinking…If there are stumbles along the way, there are also many felicities…The acting is terrific across the board, but you can probably sense the way Ms. Kennedy has overentangled her characters, like an anxious sailor making redundant knots." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"The flavors in this melting pot kitchen sink drama...don’t quite combine into a satisfying dish. But numerous parts are individually tasty, giving drama-hungry playgoers something to chew on along the way...The problem in 'Napoli, Brooklyn' is that there are too many of them stuffed into one story...The poor theatergoer is drawn in too many directions to focus on the heart of the play...Quite a bit of 'Napoli, Brooklyn' is compelling. But there just seems to be too much pasta in the pot." Full Review

Woman Around Town

“This is a fairly well-written kitchen sink drama, but misses the mark. Though characters manage to offer occasional humor, moments of specificity, and lots of familial devotion, everything is so formalized, we don’t care enough. The scope of the catastrophe is also hard to balance against the outcome. The company is fine, though an array of accents throws one…Well-paced scenes move smoothly from one area of to another. Two-handers are particularly well realized.” Full Review

Village Voice

"Kennedy seems to be trying to cram all the plays she wants to write into one story, which produces an exciting mixture of elements but also badly dissipates focus and fractures narrative confusingly...Full of interest, the play is also full of head-scratching anomalies...Gordon Edelstein’s production works, with only occasional hints of struggle, to harness the play’s constant shifts of topic, scene, and narrative. He gets generally fine performances." Full Review

The Wrap

“Kennedy is better at sketching the play’s many female characters…She has a flair for dialogue…But she has a tendency to telegraph plot points…And pivoting her drama around an external real-life event carries some unfortunate consequences and rushed denouement in the second act. The dynamics of the Muscalinos could have provided all the fireworks she needed. There is much to admire here, but ‘Napoli, Brooklyn’ feels like a tasty but overstuffed manicotti." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Feels both thematically overstuffed and undernourished. The playwright seems to be straining too hard for effect here...The drama creaks under the weight of too many machinations...The play benefits from a strong sense of atmosphere provided by director Gordon Edelstein...The performances are largely first-rate…For all its seeming authenticity—the play was inspired by events in the life of the playwright's mother—the evening feels as ersatz as today's tourist-clogged Little Italy.” Full Review


“Edelstein draws excellent performances from all…The script is still overstuffed with issues represented by less than fully realized characters…The problem is that there's no real thread to forcefully connect all these small scenes. Consequently, 'Napoli, Brooklyn' remains a diffuse, episodic work that lacks a clear, central line of development…Unfortunately despite the exciting way the literally explosive disaster is staged the second act reverts back to stereotypical predictability.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“There is too much going on, too much stereotyping, and too many characters who exist solely to make a thematic point…The cast members make the most of their roles and frequently manage to breathe authentic life into their characters. Truly, there are emotionally gripping moments...For some, this will be enough, but anyone looking for complex character development and a compelling plot are likely to be left feeling unsatisfied." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"‘Napoli, Brooklyn’ is, for much of its running time, a remarkably sluggish drama built around a first-act curtain so shocking that I'm a little surprised it doesn't nightly inspire an audience panic attack...Sadly, it also casts a stark light on the weaknesses of a script that is overburdened with simmering plot lines that never quite come to a boil...Making something compelling of this messy, ambitious work somehow eludes Kennedy's grasp." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant

See it if You want to be moved and reminded of your own familial relationships

Don't see it if I don't have any negative input

Entertaining, Funny, Masterful, Resonant

See it if you like family stories. Also if you like period pieces from the 1960's this is a great one!

Don't see it if you have a bad heart and can't handle a big surprise. There is something that happens in the show that will make you jump!

Great acting, Great staging, Intense

See it if You enjoy seeing shows set in recent NY history. It is well written with relevant topics and good characters. Excellent staging.

Don't see it if You cannot take one single loud event, even though it is spot on. Or if your view of human relations is narrow and strict.

Absorbing, Funny, Great acting, Must see, Enchanting

See it if You enjoy family based dramas

Don't see it if You are sensitive to loud noises or don’t like straight plays

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Great writing, Intense

See it if you like plot twists and surprises. The entire ensemble is amazing. The show is beautiful.

Don't see it if you're not really about female empowerment and loud noises.

Absorbing, Great acting, Feminist, Resonant, Great design

See it if you want to see brilliant performers working with a moving script in a powerful production.

Don't see it if you are prone to describing stories about women as "precious".

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Great staging, Riveting

See it if you appreciate a family story that is gripping, intriguing, emotionally raw, and with unexpected twists.

Don't see it if you are disturbed by violence or by loud noises.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Thought-provoking

See it if you like shows about families.I loved the relationships, the acting and the set. Most of the relationships felt real.It was a bit pat.

Don't see it if you are looking for something that is experimental.This is a standard family drama, set in Brooklyn in 1960.Believable characters.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great staging, Riveting, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy a real-life story involving a real tragedy, and family issues in a 1960s NY Italian household, and how families deal with them

Don't see it if you don't want to see a story involving family violence and personal trageries

Absorbing, Funny, Profound, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if If you remember the plane crash that the play is based makes it so interesting and memorable.

Don't see it if If you don't like family issues thrown around the stage with really bad foreign accents and some silly characters.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if you want to see a moving play that tells a human side of the Italian-American experience in the early 60's along with forbidden love.

Don't see it if you have no heart or (in all seriousness) you can't deal with loud noises.

Intense, Intelligent, Absorbing, Funny, Thought-provoking

See it if You're Italian. You enjoy period pieces that intertwine fiction with historical fiction. The young woman who plays the middle dtr is great!

Don't see it if You don't like dramas with an ethic twist.

Clever, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing, Delightful

See it if you want to sit at the dinner table of an Italian family in the 1960's to ride the highs and lows they face in our ever-changing world.

Don't see it if you are bothered by family squabbles, cultural differences and unexpected loud shattering moments.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You are nostalgic about NYC or 1960, Italian-American or wannabe

Don't see it if You don't like family drama

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if Great combination of script and reality. (I remember it well) Reminds one of A View From the Bridge. Acting very good.. A 90 and an 85

Don't see it if see it

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if You like intense family dramas, strong, outspoken women, period piece wrapped around an actual event in Brooklyn in the 1960's.

Don't see it if You don't like domestic violence, young, lesbian love in the 60's, family melodramas, or can't handle a giant shock that will scare you.

Also I knew something was coming at the end of Act I that would make the wh... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great writing, Refreshing, Ambitious, Entertaining

See it if You like serious family dramas with poignant moments and characters that are depicted extremely realistically

Don't see it if You make excuses for domestic violence/abusive fathers. You're a dated and simple minded conservative who thinks women belong in the home

Also Really not understanding why people are criticizing the first act as b... Read more Read less

Great acting, Profound, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if You want to watch a life altering moment and see what happens next.

Don't see it if You like your entertainment to keep on moving in the same direction.

Also Oh my. What just happened?! It honestly took my breath away. Just your... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Ambitious

See it if You like character-driven drama with some lighthearted moments.

Don't see it if Portrayals of domestic violence disturb you.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if You enjoy "slice of life" stories with strong female characters

Don't see it if You want a complex plot and "big" moments - although there is one....

Intelligent, Relevant, Intense

See it if you like a good story and good acting. Like controversial topics.

Don't see it if Not open to different cultures and lifestyles

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You enjoy familial relationships, with all their joys and complications. Also, the fact that there were more women than men onstage!!!

Don't see it if You are expecting a musical and spectacle. It's a well written story about real people.

Reminiscent of the 30's, Absorbing, Great acting

See it if you are nostalgic about Bklyn in the 30's &40's

Don't see it if you are not interested in times of yore

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like good solid dramas about family challenges, the 60's, great performances from non-celebrity actors who each hold their own

Don't see it if you don't like dramas or don't want to think about what being LGBTQ might have been like in 60's Brooklyn

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Resonant, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy excellent acting, clever staging, poignant 60's family drama about a traditional ethnic family with strong female characters

Don't see it if you are not into serious drama about dysfunctional family problems and strong female characters ahead of their time in beliefs & actions

Cast & Creatives (15)