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“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 clunky...it 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
"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
“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 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
"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
"‘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
“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
“‘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
"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
“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
"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
"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
“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
“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
“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
"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
“I didn't believe any of it, except for that real-life event, which director Gordon Edelstein stages to impressive effect at the end of the first act…Kennedy’s determination to touch on every obstacle...leaves her little room to dig deep into any of them. What's left are stereotypes and platitudes. Like so many young playwrights Kennedy tries to cover up the patchy parts of her play with a couple of explain-it-all speeches at the end. For me, it was too little and too late.” Full Review
"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
“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
"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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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.
See it if you enjoy family drama set in the 1960s with a surprise at the end of Act 1 that alters the course of the family dynamic
Don't see it if you dislike dysfunctional family story lines, or family violence/mistreatment.
See it if You like drama about an immigrant family in NYC in the early 1960's with a twist. You may identify if you are from that era.
Don't see it if You dislike lots of discussion. Are anti-abuse within families.
See it if you'd like any of these: a story about New York, about families, about rebellious daughters, interracial relationships, character developmen
Don't see it if you dislike too many issues being discussed with inadequate resolution of the plot twists.
See it if you like sagas with violent fathers, daughters finding themselves, mothers trying to make sense of a changing world & a historical event
Don't see it if you find family stories from the early '60's to be predictable, subtle depictions of lesbianism and interracial friendships disturb you
See it if you come from an immigrant Italian family and want to see what it must have been like (sort of) for your ancestors - if you can believe it.
Don't see it if really poorly crafted writing and play structure full of stereotypes and a manipulated "happy" ending is going to drive you crazy.
See it if This play is Golden Girls' origin story of Dorothy and Sophia meet Laverne & Shirley with a killer intermission and, yet, not entertaining.
Don't see it if The writing is simple and riddled with cliches, despite a talented cast. I think I heard Gary Marshall turning in his grave, or me snoring.
See it if you want your drama obvious and in your face Except for the delightful and quirky mother the rest of the characters are predictable and "eh"
Don't see it if If you are put off by audiences that act as if they are at a ball game! Who are these people who react as if their opinion (verbal) matters?
See it if The immigrant experience, family sagas and feminist themes are appealing plot lines.
Don't see it if You want tight plots, don't care about immigrant family drama and can't take family brutality and a startling loud explosion
See it if Brooklyn history, male issues of not having a boy, sexual preference 60's time period sounds interesting
Don't see it if if you do not find any of these subjects interesting
See it if Daughters and wife struggle to cope with violent repressive father. Period setting is well done. Big surprise at the end of act one.
Don't see it if There is no subtlety. Characters are one dimensional. Themes are preached. Father is mean. Women learn to assert themselves.
See it if you enjoyed the film BROOKLYN, set in the same fairy tale Brooklyn of close knit ethnic enclaves and endearing family types overcoming want
Don't see it if you want fresh insights into Italian American immigrant lives. Some of the details here are engaging, but this is otherwise pretty standard
See it if you are Italian or like plays about Italian families
Don't see it if you are looking for something different and refreshing. This subject has been tackled before and been better.
See it if you haven't already had your fill of plays about Italian immigrant families in Brooklyn coping with a tyrannical father.
Don't see it if you like plays that give deeper focus to fewer characters.