|Kate (Pamela Martin, right) has a complicated relationship with her sister Blanche (Nancy Cooper, left)|
as husband Jack (Tony Targan) tries to keep the peace.
PHOTO by Paul Manoian
The famous Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.” With all due respect to Mr. Shaw, he never saw Pamela Martin act! Pamela has been teaching drama since 1991 as a Drama Specialist at Cranbrook Schools, Brookside Elementary. And if you see her performance in Brighton Beach Memoirs at the Farmington Players, you will know right away that she can definitely act! Pamela’s character Kate Jerome is the wife of Jack Jerome, the sister of Blanche, the aunt of Nora and Laurie, and the mother to Eugene and Stanley. As Pamela says, “I truly enjoy playing Kate because she is a very formidable Jewish mother who really has a deep care and concern for her family. She is a ‘workhorse’ and she is very tightly wound. Above all, she wants to keep the peace. She is a problem solver who tries to tackle every family issue and tries to fix all of the family problems.” And in the Jerome family, there are plenty of problems to fix! As Kate so eloquently puts it, “you inherit a family, you inherit their problems.”
Family is the central theme of Brighton Beach Memoirs. Pamela sees Kate as strong, yet vulnerable, when dealing with each family member. As she observes, “There is a theme of dignity for each character. The collective dignity must be brought together. It is the family. Kate is the protector and lioness yet she is very vulnerable. There is a beauty to Kate’s vulnerability. I can see myself in Kate from the outside as having a rather tightly wound disposition at times but inside, I too have a great love for my family and I can also be quite vulnerable.” This vulnerability really comes out in her scenes with her younger sister Blanche, played by Nancy Cooper. Pamela says that Kate has “a special yet complicated relationship with her younger sister, Blanche. My challenge with playing Kate is that I need to balance her frustration and control with her great love, compassion and understanding and give the audience a glance as to why Kate is Kate.”
Pamela has always loved Brighton Beach Memoirs and Neil Simon is one of her favorite playwrights: “The way he builds a scene -- one moment you are laughing hysterically the next you are wiping away tears -- pure perfection. Also, I like the fact that this was an autobiographical play based on Neil Simon’s own family. (He being the Eugene role of course.)” Audiences also love the show because “there is something that will resonate with everyone. Whether it be a character, scene, monologue, or dramatic pause, Mr. Simon’s work is brilliant. Brighton Beach is as much relevant today as it was back in 1937 because it is about family. And as Kate says, “This is a family. The world cannot survive without families.” Pamela has enjoyed connecting with her new Barn family as well: “I am thrilled to be a member of the Farmington Players family and I adore acting with my very talented Brighton Beach family. I hope everyone enjoys the show!”
Brighton Beach Memoirs has 7 remaining performances at the Farmington Players Barn Theater through October 13. The show is proudly sponsored by Mall Malisow & Cooney. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.