Odd Couple, The Sunshine Boys) won the 1991 Pulitzer for Yonkers, which is a melancholy family drama tinged with comedy.
With their mother deceased and their father off to work to pay off a loan shark he owes for covering his late wife’s medical bills, Jay (Ari Votzaitis) and Arty (Logan Warren) find themselves living for ten months in 1942 with their tyrannical grandmother (Trish DeBaun) and their mentally-challenged Aunt Bella (Priscilla Locke) in Yonkers, New York. Grandma Kurnitz is cold, demanding, and unable to express affection of any kind. She does not want the children there, but Bella does. The battle is on, first between Kurnitz and her grandchildren, but ultimately between mother and daughter.
Director Joe Gellura has a strong ensemble at work in this piece with laughs generated by Warren as Simon’s alter ego. The key performance is delivered by Locke, excellent as the daughter simply looking for a little happiness in her life. It’s a sensitive performance that grounds this show and gives it more heart than one expects from a typical Simon play.
‘Lost in Yonkers ‘ runs Friday through Sunday through April 15 at the Raven Performing Arts Center. 115 North St., in Healdsburg. Friday & Saturday evenings at 8pm; Sunday matinee at 2pm.
For more information, go to raventheater.org
There may be no more “community theatre” in our area than the folks at the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center. A glance through the bios in their programs shows a mix of trained veterans, community actors, and a fair number of newcomers. This willingness to cast from the community, while commendable, often leads to a variance in the quality of their productions.
Their current presentation of William Saroyan’s prize-winning-but-severely-dated The Time of Your Life is a good example. The show, a sort of pre-WWII Cheers, has a cast of sixteen with various levels of experience playing the denizens of a San Francisco dive bar circa 1939. There’s no real plot, just a variety of human flotsam and jetsam floating through the tavern.
In an early scene, one character asks another if a performance they’re watching is any good. The response – “It’s awful, but it’s honest and ambitious…”
I can’t improve on Saroyan.
‘The Time of Your Life’ runs Friday through Sunday through April 15 at the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center, 209 N. Cloverdale Blvd., in Cloverdale. Friday & Saturday evening at 7:30pm; Sunday matinee at 2pm.
For more information, go to cloverdaleperformingarts.com.