'Boys Next Door' is brilliant

    he final production of Lamb’s Players Theatre’s 2003 season is “”The Boys Next Door,”” running now through Nov. 16. First staged by the company in 1991, this play remains one of the company’s most requested productions.

    “”The Boys Next Door”” mixes large amounts of humor with heart-wrenching drama to tell the story of four developmentally disabled men: Arnold, Lucien, Norman and Barry, who all live in a group home. Jack Palmer, the supervisor, looks after them while trying to deal with the problems in his own life.

    The actors do a superb job of bringing their characters to life, showing their own personal struggles while also exploring the unique relationships they have with each other. Paul Maley plays Arnold, a hyper and always-nervous character who talks a mile a minute about “”behavioral patterns”” and Russia. Maley’s energy is astounding and gives life to the play. Keith Jefferson plays Lucien, the most disabled member of the group. Jefferson does an impressive job of making Lucien endearing as a grown man with less mental capacity than a five-year-old.

    Robert Smyth plays Norman, a caring, yet often worried man with a love for donuts. Smyth does well at showing the relationship between his character and Sheila, played by Deborah Gilmour Smyth. Nick Cordileone plays Barry, a schizophrenic who fancies himself a golf professional, offering lessons for 25 cents. He does a spectacular job of moving between being perhaps the most seemingly “”normal”” of the men to being nonresponsive after a visit by his father, played by Doren Elias. That is perhaps one of the most dramatic and frightening scenes of the play.

    Jon Lorenz plays Palmer, the man who supervises the men living in the group home. Lorenz shows both the frustration and the reward that comes with Palmer’s job as well as his conflict between wanting a less stressful job and feeling that he owes it to the men he looks after to stay.

    One of the best features of this play is the ending. Rather than a concrete ending where everyone has come to terms with the events of the story, there is not a complete resolution. The audience doesn’t know what happens to some of the characters and nothing is permanently settled for any of them. It makes the story seem much more true-to-life, allowing the audience to believe that life continues on for these characters.

    This story is often funny, occasionally saddening, but always insightful. It offers a unique look into the lives of people often ignored or even shunned by society. “”The Boys Next Door”” is showing at the Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado through Nov. 16. Tickets range in price from $20 to $40 and can be purchased either by calling the Lamb’s Player’s Theatre box office at (619) 437-0600 or by ordering online at http://www.lambsplayers.org.

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