The themes in Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers” are as relevant today as when the play is set – in the 1940s: a struggling national economy near the end of a long war, a family burdened by the economic hardships of healthcare and the ubiquitous dysfunctional family. It is that last theme that adds the humor to the poignancy of what is considered by many to be one of Simon’s best works.
The play opens today at the and runs through June 27.
Fran Kane, the director, admires the play because “it’s a lot like life.” She said the themes of surviving hardship and losses in life are relatable, especially considering Simon’s prowess of evoking both laughter and tears.
Kane explained that his characters all cope with their struggles, past and present, differently. “Some in a way that allows them to move forward, others remain caught in their pain.”
A retired psychologist, Kane clearly understands the character’s coping mechanisms and she has striven to help her talented cast to recognize them as well. “To me, developing a consistency of character is vital,” she said. “It’s kind of like being a profiler in a way.
“The depth of the emotion that comes out and what led up to it, is intriguing. It’s like a peeling of the onion, layer by layer we see how something started,” Kane said. “By the end of the play, you get the picture. ‘Ah, this is how that happened.’”
She insisted there are no heroes and no villains in the play, even though a character may seem annoying or even appalling. Characters may appear good and bad, pleasant and disagreeable. “You like and dislike them all at once. It’s just like life,” she added. “It’s all a bundle.”
And just like life, producing the play is a balancing act.
“It’s been a challenge. It’s been fun. There’s always the question: Will we be ready? And somehow, it usually comes together,” she said. She mentioned the cast is excellent, strong from the large turnout of actors at the auditions. The set is ready and looks good.
“We’ve been working hard,” Kane said, “and I think we’re ready.”
Performances of “Lost In Yonkers” run for one week only. Curtain times are Thursday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $16 and $19.
For tickets and more information, go to www.newtownartscompany.com.