From the legendary Shakespeare to the great Simon, for centuries playwrights have filled the lives of readers and theater goers with entertainment. Drama is a versatile genre of literature which has withstood the test of time. However, according to McMahan, Day, and Funk, "drama is not as flexible as other forms of literature." (p.602) .
"A writer of fiction can take as much time as needed to inform the reader about character, setting, motivation, or theme. The dramatist must do everything quickly and clearly." (McMahan, Day, Funk p. 602) Drama must be developed with a rigid structure to gain the audience's interest immediately, and to maintain that interest throughout the play. In addition to structure, a well written play will include inserts of humor, action, and literary elements such as irony, symbolism, and foreshadowing. Neil Simon does an incredible job incorporating all of these elements into his renowned play "Lost in Yonkers." .
"Lost in Yonkers" as Kroll (1991, p.1) states, is about a "nuclear family that clearly has some protons missing." The play is set in the year 1942, in Yonkers, New York. The story begins in the sweltering apartment of the cold Grandma Kurnitz, where one fan is struggling to keep two exasperated young boys cool. Immediately, Simon incorporates a touch of irony and symbolism into his play with the setting of his opening scene on "a hot, sultry day in August," (Act I, sc. i), within the presence of the bitter and wintry Grandma Kurnitz.
Within the first scene, we learn about the two young boys, Jay and Arty, whose mother has recently passed away. Their father, Eddie, "is panic stricken when has to persuade Grandma to take in his young sons," (Kroll, p.1) so that he can go away on business, for he has to pay off the debts which accumulated when his wife was in the hospital. The boys are resentful and do not want to stay with their astringent old Grandmother.