Lost in Yonkers

Lost in Yonkers
Shirley McCarthy as Bella, with her nephews

Neil Simon’s comic drama, Lost in Yonkers, gets a new run at the Cork Arts Theatre this month and is well worth a visit.

Grandma Kurnitz rules the roost at her Yonkers apartment in 1942. Her giddy forgetful middle aged daughter Bella is firmly under her thumb and now her weak-willed son Eddie is forced to leave his two kids with her while he goes off to seek work and repay a debt to a loan shark.

The kids, both young teens, are full of trepidation, justifiably so, and there is little relief from the tyranny until another of Grandma’s sons Louie, on the run from some heavies, comes to hide out for a week or so. Street wise Louie has a good idea of how to handle his mother and helps both Bella and the two kids get a handle on her.

After many tears and much laughter, it all seems to work out fairly well. Grandma will hardly admit it but the outer barbed wire and the inner steel seems to be exhausted, metal fatigue perhaps, by the layered love of the two generations. Eddie repays his debt while Louie dodges the home town bullet by going off to war and, after yet another false start, Bella bravely continues to enhance her engagement with the wider world.

Gert (excellent performance by Judy Donovan), another of Grandma’s daughters, makes an appearance after the interval. Her breathing and speech regularly trip over one another and that leads to some comic moments. It also leaves at least one question hanging at the conclusion. What the hell is her New York phone number?

It takes a while, maybe a minute, to get use to the New York accents. Grandma, speaking with a German accent, is the major presence and Maírín Prendergast puts on a tour de force. You won’t like her! You will like Bella (Shirley McCarthy) and have a laugh or two with this giddy woman who is not helped by Grandma considering her, partly for selfish reasons, as a child.

Mark O’Shaughnessy (as Eddie) and Ian McGuirk (Louie) are spot on with their contrasting characters and once again it was great to see the CAT Repertory Company give youth its fling in the shapes of 17 year old Eoghan Moloney (Jay, or Jacob according to Grandma) and 14 year old Alex Murphy (as joker Arty), two for the future.

I can honestly say I absolutely enjoyed this two act play, directed by Trevor Ryan. It is really entertaining and you'll love the fashions of the forties. The costumes were supplied by Miss Daisy Blue on Market Lane and the Montfort College of Performing Arts.

The play was premiered in New York in 1991 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama that Year. It is still a winner. The run started this week and continues until Saturday 29th September. Get your tickets here  or 021 4505624.