Lost In Yonkers
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Kim Taylor

For those of you who aren’t great Neil Simon fans, Lost In Yonkers, now playing in Ross, is an exception. Fueled by the fires and foreboding of WWII, this drama takes place in 1942 not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor got America into the war. It is a family story and has many of the great comic moments that Simon fans have come to expect, but it’s so much more than the mere series of gags that make up many of his plays.

Jewish immigrants from Germany, each member of the Kurnitz family is deeply effected by the world war as well as several more intimate wars erupting in their own psyches. The grandmother, played beautifully by Tamar Cohn, is a tough old bird with a soft heart that she keeps encased in steel in order to ensure her family’s survival. Her son Eddie (Michael Sally), whose wife died of cancer, comes to his mother in Yonkers to talk her into caring for his two sons while he takes a job in the south supporting the war effort. Though reluctant, she gives in because Eddie’s sister talks her into it. Aunt Bella (Sarah Green) loves her brother’s two sons and enjoys cooking for them and making them ice-cream Sundays. She’s the only cheerful member of the family, part of which is probably due to a touch of Down’s syndrome. Her brother Louie (Bruce Viera) has learned to survive outside the law and Eddie’s sons Jay (David Abrams) and Arty (Kyle Lemie) look up to him as a dark mythic figure.

This wide range of characters does provide a lot of great comedy, but the depth that this excellent cast takes each character to is what really turns this family’s story into powerful drama. As we delve into the intricate ways each member of the family has developed in order to survive in a chaotic world, we learn some very primal lessons of how humor, love and compassion can help us endure war.

For tickets or more information call (415) 456-9555 or visit www.rossvalleyplayers.org.

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