The Boys Next Door is a powerful use of theater to expose the reality of special needs through drama and comedy, while shining the bright show lights on it. Presented by Hampton Theatre Company, the Tom Griffin play can be seen at the Quogue Community Hall. The show is directed by Edward Brennan. I attended opening night and I was moved by the power the play has.
Usually a play will have one or two members of its cast who carry the show, in The Boys Next Door that would be Matthew Conlon, who plays Arnold, a mentally challenged man who has a certain larger than life physicality on stage. His delivery of his lines is flawless and his movement around the stage had all eyes lasered on him.
Equally as dominate is Scott Hoter, who plays the donut loving Norman Bulansky, another mentally challenged individual, but one who touches the essence love on its most basic level. He is brilliant with a Tony Award type of performance.
Perhaps the most challenging role in the show is that of Lucien B. Smith played by Dorian M. O’Brien. Lucien has perhaps the least cognitive development of the characters in the play. Mr. O’Brien is outstanding. The complicated role of Barry Klemper is played by Spencer Scott who brings home the complexity of his challenges with a delicate, gentle and touching performance.
Paul Velutis portrays Jack, who is the person in charge of these four mentally challenged young men. He is believable, sincere and does a great job.
Mike Borland, Jessica Howard, Catherine Maloney, Bob Kaplan were all capable in their roles in the show.
During my own journey through life I spent a year substituting for special needs children at the various East End schools. The Boys Next Door truly captures the spark that lies in these challenged individuals. Tom Griffin’s words are crafted to expose the humanness and desperate situation these individuals have and will have their whole lives. They are special people with special needs.
Shows are on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $30.
The Quogue Community Hall is located at 125 Jessup Avenue in Quogue. For more information and to buy tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit web.ovationtix.com.