Bella (Liz Bradley, left) and her brother Louie (Maurice "Buck" Reidy, right) do not enjoy spending time with their mother (Ann Palches). Photos by Ralph Stewart
Lost and found in Vineyard Haven
Neil Simon's 1991 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Lost in Yonkers," is essentially about a dysfunctional family that has some extremely diverse issues and some even more varied personalities. A dysfunctional family is a family that, nevertheless, functions, although in ways that are somewhat less than optimal. The experience of the various dysfunctions is what keeps this family together. It is a story of loss and in the end it is the losses that allow the various members to find their way. I can't help but think that this play once had a working title of "Lost and Found in Yonkers." It is Mr. Simon's witty dialogue and often hilarious scenes that tie this World War II era drama together in unexpected ways, ways that make this play worth its Pulitzer.
Older brother Jay (Ray Ewing) is forced to live for a time with his grandmother.
The two brothers in the show are played by West Tisbury School seventh grader Jake Sudarsky as the younger brother Arty, and 16 year-old Ray Ewing, a Martha's Vineyard Regional High School student, who plays the older brother, Jay. They work well together and it is their relationship that forms the core of the story line. Mr. Ewing is focused and carries many of the scenes with his experience both as a character and an actor. Sometimes I was not sure if Arty was drifting as a character or as an actor but his presence provides a comfortable and funny foil to Jay's more responsible bearing. They have just lost their mother to disease and it is up to their father, played with a skilled unsureness by Kevin Ryan (yes, the very same as the set designer) to do what he can do to pay off his debts by going on the road as a salesman. He proposes to leave the kids in the care of his mother, a harsh, elderly German-Jewish immigrant, whose demeanor could freeze a flame. Her steely presence is made manifest by the talented veteran Island actress Ann Palches, who plays way above her age convincingly.
"Lost In Yonkers," Thursday, Nov. 9, Friday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Nov. 12 at 2:30 pm, at the Katharine Cornell Theatre, Spring Street, Vineyard Haven. Tickets are $15 or $12 for seniors.