Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon (1991)

Summary:  When their father leaves in search of out-of-state work (1942), teenagers Jay and Arty are forced into a ten-month stay with their distant grandmother, who they have only met a few times.  Not eager to be around children again, she makes their lives miserable by forcing them to work in her candy store, charging them whenever candy goes missing and subjecting them to long diatribes about her difficult life.  During the course of their stay, Jay and Arty also forge a relationship with their aunt Bella (who is emotionally handicapped) and their visiting uncle Louie (who has connections to the mob).

Thoughts:  The first and second acts of this play are very, very different.  The first has a rather whimsical tone of, "How did we end up in this situation?"  In contrast, the second involves arguments between all of the major characters and pointed personal commentary about individual members of the family.  I definitely expected Neil Simon's Pulitzer Prize to be for a zany comedy.  While the play certainly has moments of humor and other comedic elements, the play is largely a realistic depiction of an American family--emotions, hurt feelings, eggshells, fights and secrets.

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