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'Lost in Yonkers': A Family Affair

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In the new off-Broadway Actors Company Theatre production of Neil Simon's Pulitzer-winning play Lost in Yonkers, the Kurnitz family returns to the stage with intense bickering and implicit love. The play showcases more than just one family's hardships in getting along and getting by; it also grapples with the conflicts that erupt when members of different generations are forced into close quarters and the added difficulties that arise when the family matriarch is a stubborn German-Jewish grandmother. This family dynamic is so rich on drama that you can't help but keep your eyes glued to them, awaiting the blowups and meltdowns.

Every conversation in between is just as intriguing. No matter which two or three or four family members are engaging in conversation, there's a lot going on inside of the cramped apartment they're all forced to share. The play's central characters are Jay (Matthew Gumley) and Arty (Russell Posner), who are two teenage brothers who must move in with Grandma after their father must leave for a year for a job opportunity. Their struggles to connect with their grandmother, played by Cynthia Harris, demonstrate how far apart they are. When their excitable but troubled aunt Bella (Finnerty Steeves) enters the picture, she represents someone torn over where she's supposed to reside. Is she better suited for life here at home, or away where she can grow and learn? We have our feelings, everyone else has theirs.

As the other members of the family come and go, they each in their own way provide insight and background about why the grandmother and Bella are the way they are. Deep down, you believe that everyone is doing their best to get along and to protect one another. Nobody is resentful or angry at anyone else over their decisions. Yet everyone is unsettled. Some dream of life outside those walls, while others are content to accept that life hasn't worked out how they dreamed. For the young brothers, it's a learning experience they'll never forget.