He has decided to work collecting scrap iron for the war effort, which means he will be gone a year. He has asked their grandmother if they can stay a year.
Comic master Neil Simon turns to psychological drama in “Lost in Yonkers”
The play then skips ahead weeks later, as Jay and Arty read a letter from their father. Bella comes in from seeing a movie; Grandma is angry she is staying out so late. The boys later see a car waiting outside, and Bella tells them she has met a man named Johnny. He works as an usher at a movie theater, and she wants to marry him. She tells the boys that Grandma has hidden fifteen thousand dollars somewhere in the candy store. The boys rummage around in the store, trying to find the money. Jay wants to send it to their father.
They are startled by a man in the dark. It is their Uncle Louie, who warns them to be careful when trying to steal from Grandma.
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She always caught him. The boys tell Louie about the black car, and tell him that they have seen two men around the house.
critical essays on lost in yonkers
Louie bribes the boys to tell the men they have not seen him, and tells the boys he will be staying around the house for a while. As act two begins, Arty is sick in bed. Grandma makes him soup, but he does not want to drink it. Grandma forces him to drink the whole bowl, saying he cannot earn his keep if he is sick. Grandma makes both Arty and Jay work in the candy shop to pay for their expenses.
Louie tells the boys Grandma is only mean to them to help prepare them to fend for themselves in the real world.
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Bella plans to tell the family that she wants to get married. The boys ask Louie if they can leave with him, but he gets upset when he finds out they think he is a gangster. That night, Bella gathers everyone in the family to tell them the news. When no one seems supportive, she struggles to get the words out.
Jay helps her tell them the news, but the family is upset by her news. Grandma tells Bella that she does not want to hear anything more about Johnny. Bella breaks down. Grandma storms out, and Bella starts crying.
She goes missing for a few days, and Aunt Gert comes over to help take care of Grandma. With those works, tracing his coming of age from New York City boyhood to his wartime military career to his emergence into the world of comedy writing, the critics had to acknowledge a master. The brilliant casting of Matthew Broderick in the young Simon roles sealed their canonic importance.
That is the outlook that informs the semi-autobiographical play Lost in Yonkers , another coming of age story but with a four-generational psychological through-line.
Whether it stands up as a true masterpiece over time remains to be seen. I suspect its strength depends, again, more on superb performance than on the script itself, at least judging from The Group Rep production now playing in Los Angeles, my first exposure to the work.
The play is set in Yonkers, N. The time is a ten-month span between August and the Fourth of July The two remaining characters are the two other surviving siblings to Eddie and Bella, a gangland bagman Louie Van Boudreaux and Gert Julie Davis , an underdeveloped character primarily identified by her severe speech handicap. There were two more children who died young, and we are led to believe they may not have been able to survive her regime of tough love.
By the end we appreciate the particular fates of these distorted characters all bound up in an unwholesome family tangle of repression, lies, crime and secrets.
Raw Vulnerability Is Highlight Of 'Lost In Yonkers' - Quogue - 27east
And what was Yonkers like? Obviously it was many years ago, likely even before World War I, but when and why did she emigrate to America? And with whom?
With her family? Was she married already? Who was Grandpa? Americans during World War II were riveted to the military progress on land, sea and air. Yet for ten months we hear no news, no specific setting of the play in a historical moment.
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