SOUTH PORTLAND – The Portland Players will stage Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers” Nov. 5 to Nov. 21. The show won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1991.

The play is set in Yonkers, N.Y., in 1942. Eddie, a widower, is panic-stricken when he has to persuade Grandma Kurnitz to take in his two teenage sons, Jay and Artie, so he can travel to a new defense job to earn money for his family.

The boys bring the audience into their observations about their own extended family, including a description of greeting their grandmother. The younger boy, Arty, explains, “Kissing her felt like putting your lips on a wrinkled ice cube.”

Audiences members also meet Aunt Bella, a woman with the mind of a child; Uncle Louie, a small-time gangster; and Aunt Gert, so tyrannized that she forgets to stop talking whenever she breathes in.

The varied characters of “Lost in Yonkers “exhibit various forms of survival techniques: the boys’ refuge in one-liners and in late-night trips to the candy store for ice cream; Bella’s search for unconditional love and acceptance; and Gert, locked in the past with all its dysfunctionalism. Grandma Kurnitz, however, is made of steel, born out of a resolve to survive and live through the pain of survival.

At its core, “Lost in Yonkers” is a play about finding one’s way through the tangled webs of familial relationships and attempting to survive life without losing the sense of self.

The Portland Players are at 420 Cottage Road. Shows are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $19, $17 for seniors and children. Opening-night: $16. For tickets, call the box office at 799-7337, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or call 90 minutes prior to curtain time.


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