The North Quincy Community Theatre's production of “The Boy with No Name” is a thoughtful and interesting depiction of the unique issues faced by families with special needs children.
You may not know how you would react to a crisis in your family until it happens. However, a provocative play like “A Boy with No Name” might help you ponder what you would do if you were.
In Ev Miller’s socially conscious play, Allen and Kathy McLaren’s marriage turns increasingly tense once they realize that their developmentally delayed son Eddy is no longer a child. At 18 years old, he is starting to become aware of his social and sexual needs. His father tries to help him, but his mother simply ignores the situation. As a result, their marriage is on the verge of collapse.
It becomes apparent during the first act that Allen is looking outside the home to satisfy his own needs. And Kathy is relying on drugs to dull the pain and guilt she feels about their son. Their problems are only magnified when Kathy’s sister Paula and her 16-year-old daughter Kitty come for a weekend visit in the midst of their turmoil.
The North Quincy Community Theatre presents “The Boy with No Name” again this weekend. The show is directed by Kevin Lowney and includes four North Quincy High School graduates - Lauren Magaldi, Bob Heim, Mary C. Ferrara and Tina Storer - in its six-person cast.
The production is a thoughtful and interesting depiction of the unique issues faced by families with special needs children. It also includes a few surprises and some very dramatic moments. But it lacks a certain crispness and clarity, especially during the early stages. Problems with timing, line delivery and jarringly distracting character shifts detracted from the general flow. The play is still quite good, but could be more powerful.
Eddie Paris stars as Eddy McLaren. His portrayal highlighted his character’s natural interest in becoming a more independent adult while still caring deeply about his parent’s approval. Even though Eddy is mentally challenged, anyone can relate to his conflict. Paris was especially effective at conveying his character’s growing understanding of his mother’s negative feelings, and his depiction of a young developmentally delayed man was incredibly believable.
Lauren Magaldi (Kathy) and Bob Heim (Allen) play Eddy’s parents. Both have the difficult job of winning our support while their characters are busy exhibiting some questionable behavior. Kathy abuses prescription drugs, tries to have Eddy placed in a home, and beats him with a belt whenever she thinks he has misbehaved. The play’s title derives from her dehumanizing habit of referring to Eddy as “he” or “him” rather than using his name.
Meanwhile, the well-meaning and mild-mannered Allen is obviously using his job as a smokescreen for an extramarital affair. He’s also planning to leave his wife. But, he is patient with Eddy and seems to love him very much. Unfortunately, their scenes together are not as powerful as they could be. And, at times there is almost a comic element to their apparent dysfunction.
The pace picks up when the family is visited by Aunt Paula (Mary Ferrara) and her teenage daughter Kitty (Tina Storer). Eddy’s sexual interest in Kitty and his mother’s irrational response to it does grab our attention during the middle portion of the play. Ferrara does well as the voice of reason, counter balancing her sister’s manic behavior. And Storer’s portrayal of a seemingly normal teenager who turns out to have her own issues was spot-on.
Pat Brawley’s appearance as Dr. Gunderson provides another credible and rational voice that shines a light on Kathy’s irrational plans to send Eddy away, and teaches the audience a little about the services that are available to special needs children and adults. It added a nice element as Kathy is unraveling.
Although it could use a little more polish, North Quincy’s Community Theater’s production of “The Boy with No Name” is still a compelling look at the difficulties of raising developmentally delayed children.
THE BOY WITH NO NAME North Quincy Community Theater at Black Box Theater at North Quincy High School, 316 Hancock St. Last weekend and Oct. 1-3.
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