Onstage: The Boys Next Door

The Boys Next Door, now at the Falcon Theatre, features four mentally challenged men in a group home. This staging of Tom Griffin's 1983 play is a heartwarming drama with a cast of talented local actors directed by Jared Doren. Humor is the emphasis in G

Tom Griffin’s 1983 play The Boys Next Door is about four mentally challenged men in a group home. Falcon Theatre is staging the heartwarming drama with a cast of talented local actors directed by Jared Doren. (The show was a 1980s off-Broadway hit, a production at the Cincinnati Playhouse in 1990 and a 1996 made-for-TV movie.)

Humor is the emphasis in Griffin’s sensitive script. Doren’s able cast captures each individual with detailed, amusing performances. Michael C. Potter makes obsessive-compulsive Arnold a stream of fast-talking twitches and non-sequiturs, while David A. Levy’s Norman is a sweetly innocent guy who obsesses about donuts. Ken Early portrays profoundly retarded Lucien as a gentle, caring man, overwhelmed by daily life, and Brian Jones inhabits Barry’s paranoia, posing as a golf pro to retreat from his abusive past.

The production could be improved with more sense of ensemble. Each actor has created a vivid portrait, but their coherence is threaded together mostly by monologues from their weary caretaker Jack (Ted Weil). Of course, these men who are boys live in their own heads more often than not, so this is a challenge of their story. Only occasionally are we shown their emotional connections — as when Lucien tries to pay Barry for golf lessons with a handful of buttons.

Nevertheless, this production makes audiences laugh in a loving way. $15; $12 students/seniors. Read a review of the show here.

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