Who would have thought that a story about a grown man pretending to be a two-year-old would have so much heart?

Who would have thought that a story about a grown man pretending to be a two-year-old would have so much heart? Ben Dudley’s play Boo-boo, the tale of 30-year-old Brandon who refuses to speak let alone grow up, is on Know Theatre’s mainstage, offering mixed media, comedy and a good dose of drama.Nathan Neorr stars as Frank, nanny to Brandon (Dudley). A chance encounter in a park with Sandy (Lisa Marie DeRoberts) leads to an attempt to rescue Frank from his pain. But blocking the way is Brandon’s strong, rich and drunk mother, played by Tonya McGriff. This is a comedy but with a twist.Dudley has a self-referential style that incorporates irony, sarcasm and slapstick humor. He’s an endearing writer; he can also be an endearing performer. Under the direction of Buz Davis, he portrays this troubled man-child with restraint while generating a lot of laughs. DeRoberts, one of our city’s most underrated actresses, finds her rhythm once the physical comedy begins. That said, her quiet, tender moments are also quite lovely.Neorr’s charisma overcomes the underdeveloped Frank. I want to know more about why he is drawn to this job. It’s not the money, we learn, so what is it? This needs more exploration. McGriff might be the best surprise of the show. (Well, second-best — but no spoilers here!) When her guard goes down, tears start to flow, and we begin to understand why Brandon behaves this way. It’s a really nice moment.The use of video was a highlight of Homegrown Productions' 2015 Fringe show, Occupational Pleasures, last year. It’s a strong element again. Look for hilarious cameos by some of Cincinnati's theater luminaries. Technical elements are flawless, as is the giant stuffed bear designed and built by Leah Strasser.Perhaps the best way to describe Boo-boo is "unexpected." It’s very funny, sure, but it also pulls at the heartstrings in ways I suspect audiences won’t see coming.

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