Inside Iowa State

Inside Archives

Submit news

Send news for Inside to, or call (515) 294-7065. See publication dates, deadlines.

About Inside

Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Jan. 18, 2008

'Serious comedy' opens ISU Theatre's spring season

by Erin Rosacker

The Boys Next Door

ISU senior William Mort plays donut-maker Norman, one of the boys in ISU Theatre's The Boys Next Door, which opens Feb. 1. Four men with developmental or intellectual disabilities share a home, supervised by their social worker. Photo by Patrick Gouran.

After staging three fall productions featuring women in primary roles, ISU Theatre opens the spring semester with Tom Griffin's The Boys Next Door.

Set in modern day New England, the two-act play is a snapshot look at the lives of four men with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the eyes of Jack, their social worker.

"He is the narrator and a character," said director Patrick Gouran. "He will talk to us about these individuals and give us some insights into what they are like, but he also steps into the action of the scene."

Jack, played by senior Andrew Schmeisser, is heading toward burnout on the job, but without bitterness.

"The stress of dealing with these four guys day after day after day, it's just consumed him and he's got to do something," Gouran said.

The four men - Arnold, Lucien, Norman and Barry - live in a communal residence supervised by Jack. Insecure Arnold is the hyperactive leader threatening to move to Russia; Lucien is the compassionate innocent with the mind of a young child; Norman is a donut maker in love with his tasty products, his girlfriend and his key ring; and schizophrenic Barry believes he is a golf pro.

Gouran considers the play a "comedy with serious overtones" and with no sense of mockery.

"I think it's a unique play in that it can be very, very funny and at the same time very, very tender and insightful," he said. "What you hear is what they feel. It is absolutely, genuinely honest."

Recent ISU graduate Brenden Dunphy (Barry) joins senior William Mort (Norman), junior John Flotho (Arnold) and freshman Ben Passer (Lucien) in the primary roles. Junior Kelly Teitsworth plays Sheila, Norman's girlfriend, while seniors Michael Rubke and Carrie Taylor round out the cast.

"I think there will be a good deal of laughter. I also feel there will be moments in which the audience will have their hearts ripped out," Gouran said. "It's just great emotional impact."

The Boys Next Door runs Feb. 1-3 in Fisher Theater. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30 p.m., while Sunday's curtain is 2 p.m. Tickets, available at the Iowa State Center ticket office or through Ticketmaster, are $14 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $7 for students.


"I think there will be a good deal of laughter. I also feel there will be moments in which the audience will have their hearts ripped out."

Patrick Gouran