The play “Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods,” at Portland Stage through March 20, takes the phenomenon of Sudan’s “Lost Boys,” who trekked thousands of miles from their war-torn homes to find refuge elsewhere in Africa and beyond, and brings it to a tiny patch of America, in Pittsburgh.

Out of the 10,000 or so Lost Boys – so-called after the characters in the Peter Pan story in part because so many of the boys and young men were left to fend for themselves, without parents or teachers to guide them – some 4,000 or so came to the U.S. and about half of them have settled here in Portland (many more than settled in Pittsburgh).

Tammy Ryan’s play seems a bit out of focus. While the Lost Boy in the title is a friendly, hard-working young Sudanese man named Gabriel (played with pluck by Tyrone Davis, Jr.) who is eking out a living at Whole Foods and going to community college, it’s the clueless one-percenter, Christine (Mhari Sandoval), who dominates. Christine strikes up an acquaintance with Gabriel, invites him to dinner, and as easily, invites him to live in her home with her and her daughter.

In the years since Ryan first wrote her play, America has lost much of its patience with that select group that Christine inhabits. With her unlikely actions, like inviting Gabriel in more or less on a whim, she gives off a certain protected obliviousness that drags down the story.

There’s little real action, and most of what there is comes about thanks to Gabriel’s rough friend, another Lost Boy, Panther (Jamil A.C. Mangan), who menaces the family and threatens to distract Gabriel from his ambitions to do better. (Also, though the actors are persuasive, what little action there is is not quite believable.) Not even the straight-talking social worker Segel Mohammed (Chantal Jean-Pierre) really ever gets through to Christine, who’s intent on her well-meaning quest to find Gabriel’s lost mother.

The set includes a nice trick by designer Anita Stewart, who splashes projected images of stacked produce to transform Christine’s luxe white kitchen into a Whole Foods grocery store. Casey Turner as Alex helps serves as a foil to her mother, as kids so deftly do, but it’s tough going when the voice of reason comes from a teenager’s complaints.

Americans don’t always like to admit it, but this country has an untold number of immigrant stories, shaped by both individuals and groups. The strength of “Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods” is how it shows that cultural differences can help forge friendships and, more broadly, contribute to American culture itself. But it’s weakness, aside from some straining of credibility, is that, in a way, it gives away Gabriel’s story to Christine.

Daphne Howland is a freelance writer based in Portland.