The last time I was fully embraced by Thalia was Sunday, May fifth. Oh, we’ve flirted and groped in the ensuing four months but we haven’t done the deed. After ten years of on-again off-again, can’t live without her, can’t possibly see her right now one would think my paramour would understand that summertime is busy time and that no matter how much I would love a sweaty rendezvous my real life responsibilities preclude summer romance.
Being on the outermost edge of my periphery for three months must have ticked my magnificent mistress off because when I made a direct advance toward her on August fifth she judged me unworthy, rejecting me with blunt and complete indifference. Deterred but not defeated I tried to again seduce my muse three weeks later and this time, after weighing her options and stringing me along for a few anxious days, she relented and opened wide. I am ecstatic to be back in the warm embrace of Thalia in the role of Lucien Percival Smith in a Stageworks Theatre production of Tom Griffin’s The Boys Next Door.
Stageworks describes The Boys Next Door thusly:
In a communal residence of a New England city, four mentally handicapped men live under the supervision of an earnest, but increasingly “burned out” young social worker. Mingled with scenes from the daily lives of these four, “little things” sometimes become momentous and often very funny. Moments of great poignancy and touching effectiveness remind us that the handicapped are like the rest of us and want only to love, laugh and find some meaning and purpose in the brief time that they are allotted on this earth.
Thoughts of Lucien, middle-aged in 1986 and profoundly challenged intellectually, have filled my thoughts since being cast. My job is to poignantly portray a brave man who carries a weighty burden through life, to show the value and sanctity of all human life and to let his joy and strength flow over the audience in a loving, humorous and respectful way.
Lucien’s speech patterns are repetitive, his comprehension low and his interactions with house mates more parallel than interactive. Most of Lucien’s lines are delivered in sentences of three words or less. I will do my best to show Lucien’s strength and value rather than his weaknesses and deficits.
While the majority of Lucien’s lines are delivered in non-grammatical, telegraphed, repetitive declarations, he, like all the “Boys” and the social worker who watches over them, have self-descriptive soliloquies. Below is Lucien’s. May we all see his value.
I stand before you a middle-aged man in an uncomfortable suit, a man whose capacity for rational thought is somewhere between a five-year-old and an oyster. I am retarded. I am damaged. I am sick inside from so many hours and days and months and years of confusion, utter and profound confusion. I am mystified by faucets and radios and elevators and newspapers and popular songs. I cannot always remember the names of my parents. But I will not go away. And I will not wither because the cage is too small. I am Lucien Percival Smith. And without me, without my shattered crippled brain, you will never again be frightened by what you might have become. Or indeed, by what your future might make you.