Montgomery Playhouse The Boys Next DoorBy Laura & Mike Clark • Jan 23rd, 2008 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of Montgomery Playhouse’s production of The Boys Next Door [MP3 8:29 3.9MB].
Gaithersburg Arts Barn, Gaithersburg, MD
$12 – $14
Through Feb. 9th
Laura: This is the ShowBizRadio.net review of The Boys Next Door, performed by the Montgomery Playhouse at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Mike and I saw the performance on Sunday afternoon, January 20, 2008.
Mike: The Boys Next Door is a funny show, but it also very serious and I think Montgomery Playhouse did a pretty good job with it.
Laura: This show was touching and there were some really funny lines in the show that the actors said quite seriously, because it made perfect sense to them, but the rest of the audience was howling. There were some really touching moments as well.
Mike: The Boys Next Door is a play by Tom Griffin. This very funny, yet touching play focuses on the lives of four men with disabilities who live in a communal residence under the watchful eye of a sincere, but increasingly despairing social worker. Filled with humor, the play is also marked by the compassion and understanding with which it peers into the world of its protagonists. Mingled with scenes from the daily lives of these men are moments of great poignancy, when we are reminded that disabilities are relative and that we all want only to love and laugh and find meaning and purpose in the brief time we are given.
Laura: The first person that we meet in this household was Arnold, played by Kevin Dykstra. He was the narrator of the show. His disabilities included being accessibly neurotic and always wanted to set up a plan, but was easily distracted. He set the tone that all of the men in the house seemed to enjoy living together, but all had various degrees of disabilities.
Mike: Barry saw himself as a golf pro. He was played by Timothy Phelps. He was slipping through reality as he was interacting through different people. We were able to watch a few of his golf lessons. He would focus on entirely the wrong thing, such as you always stay quiet when you’re in the gallery and how to handle hecklers when you’re in the gallery. He seemed to be fairly together except for this idiosyncrasy thought that he was actually a golf pro.
When he discovered that his father was coming for a visit for the first time in ten years, that really gave him something to focus on. When the actual visit occurred it was not a good thing, but a disaster. The scene between Barry and his father, played by Bruce Kaplan, was very emotional and life changing for Barry. Mr. Klemper’s reaction didn’t seem to build quite right. He hadn’t seen him in ten years and in his mind he had a certain expectation. The way he came in was so derisive of the living conditions and the apartment itself was really upsetting. I think they played the scene pretty well. The physical interaction between the two I didn’t really like, it didn’t look too realistic. I kind of understood where the father was coming from, but it really didn’t work.
Laura: The next roommate was Lucien, played by David Hughson. Lucien was mentally retarded and had the maturity level of about a five year old. He was very child like. He was quite happy in his living situation. His main action was when Social Security decided to stop sending him his security benefits. He had to go before before a state senate committee to to discuss that issue. Lucien was very nervous. There was a good monologue scene that Lucien did that explained a lot of things.
Mike: The final roommate was Norman, played by David Jones. He worked at a local donut shop and was given the doughnuts that were not sold or were bad. That gave him an obsession over the donuts, which played out throughout the show at different points. His character also had the most interaction with other people outside the household. There were a few scenes at the weekly dance facility and he was able to fall in love with Shelia, played by Susan Aaron Ostrinsky. Their interactions were very nicely done.
I liked how the Montgomery Playhouse handled the lighting to signify to us what was going on in their heads. The lighting was designed by John Hutson. It helped to keep us focused and let us know what they were experiencing versus what we were seeing. I liked that contrast a lot.
Laura: The Social Worker, Jack, was played by John Dickson. He would come and visit the boys at the house. He did an excellent job. You could understand the turmoil going on inside of him. He understood what these men were going through, but at the same time he was really getting burned out by always having to chase after them and clean up their messes. The scene where he had to tell them all he was changing jobs was a very emotional, powerful scene.
Mike: The other two performers in the show played multiple roles. Stacey Fearheiley played Mrs. Fremus, Mrs. Warren and Clara. Nick Sampson played Mr. Hedges, Mr. Corbin, and Senator Warren. I think the appearance of the characters was far enough apart that that you didn’t realize it was the same actor coming in. They played supporting roles, but I think they did a fine job. Some of the challenge from those parts was the emotions having to to come out in different ways.
Laura: The set for The Boys Next Door was nice. Set Designer was David Jones. It all took place in the common area of the house. The boys’ rooms were on either side with the bathroom toward the back. There was a door to the outside with a window so you could se people going by. I though it was very well done.
Mike: It was a very nice set. There was also a kitchen area that was used several times during the show very effectively. I liked it as it was a great use of space for the Gaithersburg Arts Barn.
Laura: After the show we talked to some of the performers to find out how they got in character for their various roles. They had some really interesting information. They said they went to ArtStream which is a program for mentally challenge people and talked with them. They did some improvisational exercises which is how they got their insight into their characters.
Mike: The four boys’ problems were not the result from an accident. Laura and I have had extensive experience with traumatic brain injury and the impact that can have on lives. I was really wondering how this would be handled in this show and I think it was handled very well. The characters did have different degrees of brain injuries and different levels of processing information in their brains. I think they did a great job with that part of it. Most of the times it was funny, to them it was serious and that was just the way the world works. It made perfect sense.
As an example, Arnold was saying that if they don’t let him do something he was going to move to Russia where they will listen to him. That was a perfectly sensible option for what he was experiencing and how he could process the information coming in to his brain. Even though this was not a funny ha ha comedy, it does have its funny points. I think this play can challenge you on how you look at other people, especially people with different disabilities.
Laura: The Boys next Door ran about two and a half hours with one intermission. It is playing through Sunday, February 3rd. Friday and Saturdays at 8 and Sunday matinee at 2 PM at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn in Gaithersburg, Maryland. We recommend you go see this show. It will make you think, laugh, and maybe even cry.
Mike: If you’ve seen this how, we’d like to hear your thoughts. Just leave a comment on our website: ShowBizRadio.net. We’d also like to invite you to join our free mailing list. We send out an email twice a week with our latest reviews and other information about theater in the DC region.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
- Arnold: Kevin Dykstra
- Barry: Timothy Phelps
- Lucien: David Hughson
- Norman: David Jones
- Jack: John Dickson
- Sheila: Susan Aaron Ostrinsky
- Mr. Klemper: Bruce Kaplan
- Mrs. Fremus/Mrs. Warren/Clara: Stacey Fearheiley
- Mr. Hedges/Mr. Corbin/Senator Warren: Nick Sampson
- Producer: Donna Dangle
- Director: Cecellia Rogers
- Assistant Director: Brian Butters
- Stage Manager: Karen Plummer
- Set Design/Master Carpenter: David Jones
- Set Construction/Painting Crew: David Jones, Bill Kenealy, Brian Butters, Donna Dangle, Ceil Rogers, Kay Couple, Dave Hughson, Nancy Davis, Joy Wyne, Karen Fleming, Josh Fleming
- Lighting design: John Hutson
- Sound Design: Paul Shoop
- Set Dressing: Kay Coupe
- Costumes: Mary Schmidt
- Lighting Execution: Martha Zanger
- Sound Execution: Patrick Hughes
- Floor Manager: Debbie Shelley
- Properties: Melinda & Newman Smith
- Program Artwork: Sheila Schmidt
- Photography: Kay Coupe
- Load-In-Crew: Brian Butters, Kay Coupe, Donna Dangle, Nancy Davis, Kevin Dykstra, Patrick Hughes, Dave Hughson, David Jones, Bruce Kaplan, Tim & Robin Phelps, Karen & Andrew Plummer, Ceil Rogers, Debbie Shelley, Paul Shoop, Malinda, Newman & Jamie Smith, Joy Wyne
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/2148.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.