Liz Bradley, Annie Palches, Jake Sudarsky and Kevin Ryan
Bella (left, Liz Bradley) is the catalyst for dramatic changes in the family. In this scene she tries to convince her mother (center, Annie Palches), to help the family. Arty (Jake Sudarsky) is being protected by his father, Eddie (Kevin Ryan). Photos by Ralph Stewart

Dysfunctional family functions

By Anna Marie D'Addarie - November 2, 2006

Playwright Neil Simon took the path less traveled, at least for him, when he wrote "Lost in Yonkers" in 1991. You must go to the Island Theatre Workshop's production, which opens tonight, to see for yourself why this divergent path earned Mr. Simon a Pulitzer Prize.

The story opens when two young grandsons are thrust into the care of their grandmother for a year. The boys' father must go off to earn money to pay a large debt, which he incurred for medical expenses for his wife who died of cancer.

Annie Palches
Grandma (Annie Palches) is a stern matriarch.

This is not the type of family who rallies around and supports each other in time of need. The grandmother has withheld love from her children, who all either fear or run away from her. How will these boys survive a year with her? Their salvation comes from an unlikely source, their Aunt Bella.

The story unfolds with Mr. Simon's clever dialogue and occasional one-liner, but this play is definitely a drama. The characters have a depth that will make you want to leave your seat, walk onto the stage, hug them, and say, "It's okay. Someone loves you."

The cast includes Annie Palches as the grandmother; Ray Ewing and Jake Sudarsky as the grandsons; Liz Bradley as Bella; son Eddie is played by Kevin Ryan; son Louie by Maurice "Buck" Reidy; and Mary Gould plays Aunt Gert.

The show is directed by Lee Fierro, and Sara Crafts is the stage and production manager. The realistic set was designed and built by Kevin Ryan and Brad Austin.

"Lost in Yonkers," at Katharine Cornell Theatre, Spring Street, Vineyard Haven, 7:30 pm, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Nov. 2, 3, 4. Also Thursday and Friday, November 9 and 10. Matinees at 2:30 pm Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4 and 5, and Sunday, Nov. 12. Tickets are $15 or $12 for students and seniors. For more information or reservations, call 508-693-5290.