It would be easy to turn a show about four grown men with mental disabilities into a mockery. An insensitive play poking fun at others based on ill-formed stereotypes.
Thankfully, the Bunbury Theatre’s production of The Boys Next Door is no such thing.
In fact, it is the complete opposite. This heartwarming, sensitively directed production exposes a world little-known by the larger community. The Boys Next Door are four men who live in a supported apartment—they spend time on their own, but are closely monitored by their supervisor, Jack, who visits daily to provide guidance.
Norman, Arnold, Barry and Lucien go about their lives in very different—and often humorous—ways. Though they each have limitations and specific needs, they find ways to live together and support each other.
Accolades to the members of this fine cast, led by director Juergen K. Tossmann , who have taken a keen interest in portraying their characters with fidelity and integrity without going overboard. Clyde Tyrone Harper, as Lucien P. Smith, has done a notable job of developing a difficult role without the least bit of caricature, and Chase Gregory is perfectly lovable as the donut-craving Norman Bulansky.
One of the few flaws in this production are the light cues that transition the scenes. They are a bit delayed and fade too slowly, leaving the actors awkwardly frozen in place for a moment too long.
The production’s set, as well as the lobby outside the theatre, is peppered with artwork created by artists from StudioWorks, a Louisville-based program for adults with developmental delays. The pieces are for sale, with the proceeds going directly to the StudioWorks artists.
Bunbury Theatre is a volunteer-based organization that relies on ticket sales, donations, and the support of local businesses to produce their works. As with many arts organizations in the Louisville area, Bunbury is listed on the Power2Give website, which allows individuals to donate and then have those donations matched by a cooperating organization.
The Boys Next Door continues Wednesday, June 12th through Sunday, June 16th. Tickets are $21 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 students and children. They may be purchased online or by calling (502) 585-5306. Performances are held on at the Henry Clay Theatre, 604 S. Third Street in Louisville.
Image: Courtesy Bunbury Theatre