Lost in Yonkers, by Neil Simon, is playing at the Ottawa Little Theatre from January 10-28, 2012. Last Wednesday evening Roger and I saw the performance and were very impressed.
The director explains in her program notes that this play, which opened on Broadway in 1991, is a "coming of age story in which brothers Jay and Arty are thrust into the stern care of their grandmother." The USA has just entered World War II and the boys' widower father, broke because of medical bills incurred during his late wife's illness, gets a job buying scrap metal, which requires him to travel all over the American south. He leaves his two sons, in their early teens, with his elderly mother who lives above the store she runs in Yonkers, NY. The boys don't know her or their aunts and uncle very well, because their parents decided when they got married to raise their children in a more loving atmosphere than that provided by the grandmother.
The director writes: "We find a story that is wonderfully crafted with laughs at every turn and enraptured with beautiful pathos." The play is a master work and the acting was excellent. The audience particularly liked the teenagers who played Jay (Thomas Nyhuus) and Arty (Ven Djukic); they never got a word or an action wrong, and were thoroughly convincing. The grandmother is the least sympathetic character in the play, but thanks to Charlotte Stewart's acting ability, the grandma came across as a multi-faceted personality. We could understand what had made her what she was.
We were delighted and surprised to find ourselves so well-entertained. Unfortunately, because it was a cold night, there were a lot of empty seats in the theatre. What a shame! People should jump at the chance to see this production of Lost in Yonkers.