Friday, March 6th marks the opening of The Boys Next Door, a two-act comedy-drama about four intellectually disabled men who live together in a small apartment — and Jack, the caring social worker who is on the verge of career burn-out. The play, a humorous commentary on the men’s lives, runs March 6-29th on the Matuza Main Stage at the Limelight Theatre.
Limelight Theatre’s co-founder Jean Rahner directs the play writes in her director’s notes “Why would a play be written about the mentally handicapped members of our society? Isn’t it a delicate subject, not be used as a public exposure or worse yet a comedy?” She continues “I have thought and researched this question and struggled with the answer. I believe the author of The Boys Next Door (Tom Griffin) has given us a window into the lives of these people … members of our society. Their existence, everyday lives, difficulties are not much different from ours. They live, they function, and they laugh, and we laugh WITH them, because we see a lot of their handicaps in ourselves every day, as we try to find meaning and purpose in life.”
The Boys Next Door takes place in a communal residence in a New England city, where four mentally handicapped men live under the supervision of a social worker named Jack. Norman, who works in a doughnut shop and is unable to resist the lure of the sweet pastries, takes great pride in the huge bundle of keys that dangles from his waist. Lucien P. Smith has the mind of a five-year-old but imagines that he is able to read and comprehend the weighty books he lugs about. Arnold, the ringleader of the group, is a hyperactive, compulsive chatterer, who suffers from deep-seated insecurities and a persecution complex. Barry, a brilliant schizophrenic who is devastated by the unfeeling rejection of his brutal father, fantasizes that he is a golf pro.
Mingled with scenes from the daily lives of these four, where “little things” sometimes become momentous (and often very funny), are moments of great poignancy when, with touching effectiveness, we are reminded that the handicapped, like the rest of us, want only to love and laugh, and find some meaning and purpose in the brief time that they, like their more fortunate brothers, are allotted on this earth.
The cast includes Patric Robinson as Lucien; George Bennis as Senator; Rich Nowell as Mr. Klemper; Joseph Stearman as Jack; Lucas Hopper as Barry; Jan Buksar as Norman; Thomas Muniz as Arnold; Katie Timoney as Sheila; Lou Agresta as Mr. Hedges and Corbin; and Margaret Kaler as Mrs. Fremus, Mrs. Warren, and Clara.
DATES TO NOTE
A talk back will be held Thursday, March 19 after the performance of The Boys Next Door. Rahner, Funcheon and Kathy Jackson, Executive Director of the Arc of the St. Johns, will answer audience questions and talk about the show. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m.Reservations in advance are encouraged.
Opening night on Friday, March 6 includes a complimentary champagne toast pre-show, and a meet-the-cast party following the show.
Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25 per person.
For reservations, call 904-825-1164 or purchase online at limelight-theatre.org. Limelight Theatre is a nonprofit organization located at 11 Old Mission Ave., in uptown St. Augustine. Free parking is available streetside and in the theatre’s parking lot.