Parker's Bella is a glowing light at the heart of this play — the spirited and, in its own way, spiritual center. Boghigian's puffed-up hoodlum is amusingly energized, but we suspect that the character might deflate at the next bump, never mind survive a hard-knock life like hers. Her sister, Gert (Tray Gearing), eventually shows up briefly, so Simon can insert a bit of pertinent humor (she has a breathing problem that sounds funny and occurs mostly when she's visiting Grandma).

The portrayal that was problematical for me was the pivotal one of Grandma herself, which Faber and director Mark Peckham present as an all-but impregnable dragon lady. Her single moment of vulnerability is toward the end, when she breaks into tears briefly, reminded of the deaths of two of her children. As a payoff it's rather stingy. We might care more if we'd glimpsed some humanity earlier, perhaps with her softening when she cautioned about the futility of dreams — before immediately hardening over, of course.

Simon often went for easy laughs in his other work, but in Lost In Yonkers he made some hard, honest choices.

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