Kyle Klein II, Eleanor Handley, David Nate GoldmanNeil Simon is one of the most celebrated American playwrights of the 20th century and one of the finest writers of American comedy. He is known for works such as The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park.  Bristol Riverside Theatre’s production of Lost in Yonkers is a play where laughs do arise, but it is the drama that is more effective. This production at Bristol Riverside Theatre is a deeply moving show with exceptional performances.

Lost in Yonkers tells the story of two boys Arty and Jay who are forced to stay with their very stern grandmother because their father needs to travel and work to clear his debts. The play is set in 1942 in Yonkers, New York. What Simon is able to present to the audience is a portrayal of three generations of a recently Americanized immigrant Jewish family during the onset of World War II, all within the walls of the boys grandmother’s apartment. Lost in Yonkers premiered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1990, and eventually moved to Broadway in 1991. In addition, the play won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The cast for Lost in Yonkers, under the direction of Keith Baker, is outstanding, as they passionately create a play that allows the audience to laugh and be moved by what they are David Nate Goldman, Kyle Klein II,  Eleanor Handley, and Bruce Graham seeing unfold on stage. The play revolves around two adolescent boys, Jay and Arty. David Nate Goldman plays the fifteen-year-old Jay, who is confrontational at times, but also feels responsibility for his younger brother. Goldman gives vivacity to this role as the story unfolds and he takes on responsibility beyond his age. Kyle Klein II plays the thirteen-year-old younger brother, Arty, who is the voice of truth in the play.  Klein depicts the innocence of youth in the production as he looks to his older brother for guidance. Joy Franz gives a superb performance as the stern and harsh Grandma. Franz has the distinctive ability to make her character hard, but still leave enough room to allow the audience to feel for her. Bruce Graham plays Eddie, the father of Arty and Jay. Graham depicts a sense of sadness in his character, but by the end of the play, he shows a sense of personal advancement. Eleanor Handley excellently plays Eddie’s sister, Bella. Bella is mentally challenged, but she is lovable as a child in a thirty-five year old’s body. Handley’s performance is uplifting as she plays to the uniqueness and warmness of the character. Her scenes were some of my favorite within the production. Bella’s charming and manipulating brother, Louie, is played by Danny Vaccaro. Vaccaro brilliantly portrays this character as he provides an emotional depth to this character. The scenes between Louie, Jay and Arty are moments within the production that were very moving. Rounding out this cast is Karen Peakes as Gert, a character who has a respiratory ailment that is psychological. Although Peakes is only onstage a short time, she creates a character the audience can feel for and who gives the story a bit of levity.

Lost in Yonkers runs at the Bristol Riverside Theatre through November 30, 2014. For more information and tickets visit their website at or call their box office at 215-785-0100.

Photos courtesy of Bristol Riverside Theatre

Final Thought: Lost in Yonkers is a show that is exceptionally done. This coming of age story will touch the hearts of audiences as they watch this story about complex family relationships unfold onstage. 

Kelli Curtin is editor and writer for In addition, she is a contributor for the online site and is a freelance writer. Kelli is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on twitter @theatrescribe and on Facebook/theatresensation.

0 Responses

Post a Comment

  1. Leave this field empty

Required Field