Wednesday, September 26, 2012

'Lost in Yonkers' by Neil Simon

26 September 2012

On Saturday we were at the Watford Palace Theatre to see ‘Lost in Yonkers’ by Neil Simon. This Pulitzer Prize-winning play from 1991 is clearly a mature work which marries Simon’s trademark comic quips and wry observations with an achingly poignant tale of family relationships and dependency set against a backdrop of war in 1940s New York. We see events through the eyes of two Jewish teenage boys who have to move in with their fearsome German grandmother while their father is away on business, but it is the boys’ Aunt who emerges as the heart of the story. Her imperfect memory and ditzy absent-mindedness initially make her seem a peripheral, comic character, but she gradually moves centre-stage and her yearning to leave her over-bearing mother and start her own family is terribly moving. The Watford Palace production was excellent with strong performances throughout the cast, particularly Laura Howard as Aunt Bella – looking and sounding uncannily like Kristen Schaal’s goofy New Yoik stalker-fan Mel in ‘Flight of the Conchords’.

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