Laughter on The Brink of Tears

Neil Simon's latest play and a revival from Britain's Alan Ayckbourn take comedy to its mainstream limits

In the pivotal scene of Neil Simon's wonderful Lost in Yonkers, which opened on Broadway last week, a mildly retarded 35-year-old woman sits her family down to tell them her plan to marry a similarly handicapped usher whom she has met a few times at a local movie theater. Poor Bella cannot get the words organized and turns to her nephews, who know the secret and awkwardly help. Her sister sits in polite confusion. Her brother, a petty gangster, impatiently tries to bolt. The clan's matriarch -- the mother whose approval is what the retarded woman most wants and will never...

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