The Neil Simon play presents an introspective look at life in the early 1940’s. The action is filtered through the eyes of a 15-year-old Jay and his ginger-topped brother, Arty, who is two years younger.
In 1942 in the Bronx, Evelyn Kurnitz has just died following a lengthy illness. Her husband, Eddie Kurnitz, needs to take a job as a traveling salesman to pay off the medical bills incurred, and decides to ask his stern and straight talking mother, from whom he is slightly estranged, if his two early-teen sons, Jay and Arty (who their Grandma calls by their full given names, Yakob and Arthur), can live with her and their Aunt Bella Kurnitz in Yonkers.
His mother refuses at first but reluctantly agrees after Bella threatens to leave her. Despite their Grandma owning and operating a candy store, Jay and Arty don’t like their new living situation as they’re afraid of their Grandma, and find it difficult to relate to their crazy Aunt Bella, whose slow mental state is manifested by perpetual excitability and a short attention span, which outwardly comes across as a childlike demeanor.
Into their collective lives returns one of Eddie and Bella’s other siblings, Louie Kurnitz, a henchman for some gangsters. Jay and Arty’s mission becomes how to make money fast so that they can help their father and move back in together. Bella’s mission is to find a way to tell the family that she wants to get married to Johnny, her movie theater usher boyfriend. Louie’s mission is to survive the next couple of days.
Mr. Simon observes the frayed bonds of this damaged family with a light touch where appropriate but also with honesty and compassion, making the climactic face-off between Bella and her mother all the more moving.
SHOW DATES – May 11, 12 & 18, 19, 20.