‘Lost in Yonkers’: Neil Simon’s wit perfectly captured at Village Theatre

  • Thu Mar 4th, 2010 2:13pm
  • Life

By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer

Neil Simon has an uncanny way of getting into a woman’s heart and capturing her feelings. He expertly expresses the anguish she feels at the loss of a child, the loneliness she experiences in a life without love and her anger at being treated as a second-class citizen.

Simon is equally adept at capturing the torment a man will undergo at the loss of his wife or the shame he endures when he can’t provide for his family.

Simon’s brilliant insights are unleashed in his play “Lost in Yonkers,” not against a sappy backdrop of self-pity but amidst a splendid canvas of sarcasm and comedy.

Yet even through the one-liners, the deeper truths are revealed.

Professionally produced in the Seattle area for the first time in more than a decade, “Lost in Yonkers” is presented by Village Theatre and directed by Tony-Award winning Brian Yorkey.

This 1940s world of Simon’s Yonkers takes place on a city-lined set decorated with furniture you would find at your grandmother’s house in a story that unfolds through the changing seasons of a year.

“Lost in Yonkers” tells the coming of age of two brothers, Jay and Arty, who must live in the dysfunctional household of their intimidating grandmother and dim-witted aunt while their father, newly widowed, travels south to find work to try to pay back a loan shark.

The actors who played the brothers are a solidly wonderful duo of talent. Collin Morris as the older, more serious Jay and Nick Robinson as the younger, wisenheimer Arty carried the show on their young shoulders with perfect comic timing and chemistry.

You fear the severe grandma before she even sets her crippled foot on stage, then Suzy Hunt brings that fear on home.

Grandma Kurnitz is a Jewish woman who fled Germany for Yonkers with her six children where she ran a candy and ice cream shop with such a tight fist she could tell if “salt was missing from a pretzel.”

Grandma rules with her coldness, her anger and her cane, wielding it like a gavel to get order and silence.

Strong performances were the norm for this solid cast, which included Mike Dooly as Uncle Louie, Bradford Farwell as Eddie, Karen Skrinde as the breathing-impaired Gert and Issaquah-born Jennifer Lee Taylor as the dim but sweet Bella.

Taylor made us root for Bella with all our might, especially during her head-to-head confrontation with Grandma.

“There’s just enough woman in me to make me miserable,” Bella declares, and we know exactly how she feels.

Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; goffredo@heraldnet.com.

“Lost in Yonkers”

Opens at 8 tonight at Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett. Shows are 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and 7 p.m. selected Sundays through March 28.

Tickets start at $17. Call 425-257-8600, 888-257-3722 or go to www.villagetheatre.org.