Don’t miss your chance to see OCP’s production of The Boys Next Door! Playing this weekend and the next.
7:37 pm Performances: August
18th, 19th, 20th, 25th, 26th, 27th
2:37 pm Performances: August 28th
Reviewed by: Jeanette Boehme
With daring and verve Orange Community Players presents “The Boys Next Door” as its opening play this season. It chronicles the lives of four mentally challenged adult men living in a group home and does so with warmth, humor, and sensitivity.
Determined to showcase the men so that the audience laughs with them, not at them, OCP pulls it off. Frankly, I felt like crying as often as I laughed watching these men struggle with what life threw at them. Directing for his first time, director Andrew Gibson said that meant that “they had done their jobs as actors.”
Once again OCP had actors from other cities, especially Nederland, integrated with veteran Orange actors in this fine production. The chemistry between all the actors was evident in every scene.
A stand-out performance was given by Gibson, the director, who also had to play Jack, the manager of the facility where the four men lived. His dual duties were the result of a last minute cast change. He stepped in with an outstanding portrayal of the manager who was also the narrator. Gibson was terrific in “Hairspray” last season and even better in this meatier production. Kudos to him!
Zech Turk played Lucien, the most severely handicapped man. Lucien had trouble with the Social Security system wanting to cut his disability payments because they thought he was faking. His soliloquy when he stepped out of his character momentarily to demonstrate what he could have been had he not been mentally challenged brought tears to my eyes. Bravo to Mr. Turk!
Daniel Sharpless portrayed Norman. He worked in a doughnut shop and had a door key fetish. He also wanted a relationship with a mentally challenged girl played beautifully by Skylar Huckaby. Their “date” was especially funny and poignant. Sharpless was completely believable asNorman and drew the audience into his role completely.
Robert Rezaie, as Arnold, was a very obsessive, nervous guy that talked all the time. Arnold threatened to run away to Russia when others teased him. Rezaie was excellent in his portrayal of this hyperactive, talkative fellow.
John Hall, veteran OCP actor, played Barry who lived and breathed “golf.” Barry was schizophrenic and had been subjected to abuse from his father. The scene where his father comes for a rare visit highlights the terrible relationship Barry has with his father. The consequences of this visit are dire.
The supporting cast of Bre’ Norton, Milton Hardin, and John Pursley all did their parts well. All of the acting is extremely well done, balancing the line between portraying real people and becoming stereotypical. There was a lack of crispness and polish to the play, especially in the technical and set aspects, that will probably disappear with the repetition of performances.
Questions that the play raises are: Does calling them “boys” trivialize their mental capabilities? Is it alright to laugh at the foibles of these protagonists? A play that causes the audience to leave the theater asking such questions has succeeded. Abe Lincoln once said, “With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.” How true, Abe, how true.
The Orange Community Playhouse is located at 708 Division across from the courthouse. The future dates for the play are August 20, 25-27 at 7:37 PM and August 28 at 2:37 PM. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students. It is not too late to obtain season memberships.