ABOUT THE PLAY
This first appeared in the July 1990 Boal Barn program
Broadway Bound is the third play in Neil Simon’s autobiographical trilogy
recording the saga of Simon’s alter ego, Eugene Morris Jerome. In the first
play, Brighton Beach Memoirs-which SCCT did in 1987-Simon gives us a warm
remembrance of his family trials and tribulations and of family unity and dignity.
It is the story of the Jerome family told – as are all the plays- from the point of
view of Eugene In Brighton Beach Memoirs, Eugene is fifteen. When he grows
up he wants to become a writer, his immediate ambition is to tryout for the
New York Yankees. But he would abandon all these dreams “if I could see a
naked girl while I was eating ice cream.” In Biloxi Blues, the second play of the
trilogy and arguably Simon’s best play, Eugene is in the Army. He develops his
writer’s sensibilities, confronts the degradations of anti-Semitism and bigotry in
general, falls in love, and loses his virginity. In Broadway Bound, World War II
is over, and Eugene and his older brother Stanley, are trying to break into show
business through careers as comedy writers. If their future is bright, that of the
older Jerome’s, their father, mother and grandfather, is dark and despairing.
If Brighton Beach Memoirs is Simon’s I Remember Mama or Life With Father,
then Broadway Bound might be considered Simon’s Long Day’s Journey Into
Night. The family situation is much the same: parents with a troubled marriage,
an older son taken by actresses and showgirls, and a younger, sensitive son
who wants to be a writer, who is ill – as Eugene is in Act II – and who is a
stand-in for the playwright. Both plays are marked by confessions from the
past. Of course, Broadway Bound is a comedy, with laughs coming one right
after the other. And, as in Long Days Journey Into Night, the characters learn
something about brotherhood and family, and about the dignity and
vulnerability of human beings.
The Eugene Jerome trilogy represents Simon writing at the height of his
talents. In these plays he looks back with love and compassion and humor at
all our family pasts. These plays remind us of our common humanity.
Eugene tells us in Broadway Bound that there is so much material and drama
in his own household maybe he doesn’t have to become a writer. “If only I
could get enough people to pay for seats in the living room”. You may not have
seats in the Jerome living room, but you do have the next best thing, seats
looking into their living room. So sit back for an evening filled with much
laughter, some tears, and above all else, insight into the human condition.
Richard B. Gidez for the State College Community Theatre