Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lost in Yonkers at the Adobe Theater

It's a show with moxy! The Adobe Theater's production of Neil Simon's "Lost in Yonkers," is a semi autobiographical period piece, set in 1942 and centering around two young boys, Arty and Jay Kurnitz, who are forced to live with their rigid Grandma whom they barely know while their Father is on the road, working to pay off their debt.

Thrust into this uncomfortable situation, the boys, who have the bulk of the storytelling in this show, must learn to cope with life at Grandma's. It's a huge challenge for two young actors, and both Nik Hoover (Jay Kurnitz) and Vicente Vargas (Arty Kurnitz) rise to the task of delivering their numerous lines, blocking their many scenes, and doing it all in a New York accent, while remaining likable and relatable to the audience.

Ninette Mordaunt gives a tour de force performance as the German immigrant Grandma Kurnitz whose inability to express emotion affects her own grown children's ability to love, to connect and to communicate with others. "Responsibilities is what makes meanness," Grandma declares, and making her children as mean as she has had to be seems her only way of expressing affection.

Also of note was Kamila Kasparian's performance as Bella, bringing a level of humanity to her dim-witted character that creates both depth and humility to the role; Bella's simplicity brings with it an emotional understanding that is beyond her other siblings to express. Directed by Heather Lovick-Tolley, the emphasis on the family dynamics and coping with difficult times is perhaps even more relevant to today's audience than it was when Simon first created it in the early 1990s.

With their Dad on the road, Uncle Louie (played by Ned Record) steps in as an alternative male role model for the boys, who are both fascinated with Louie's underworld connections, even as they wonder about the wisdom of a life of organized crime. Although he sympathizes with the boys' plight, having grown up with Grandma's challenges and learned to fight her fire with his own fire, Louie's ultimate lesson from Grandma is to always take care of himself first, and so he does. Onstage, Ned finds both Uncle Louie's soft spot for his nephews, as well as his character's selfishness.

The show runs until July 21 and you can visit www.adobetheatre.org for more showtimes, ticket information and more.

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