Directed by Derek Bertelsen
Produced by AstonRep Theatre Company
At BoHo Theatre@Heartland Studio
Thoughtful drama about commitment, love and faith in a modern context
Playwright/actor Geoffrey Nauffts’ Next Fall tells the story of two gay men – Luke who believes in God and Adam who is anesthetist. Luke (Mark Jacob Chaitin) is a 20something actor while Adam ( Ryan Hamlin) is a 40something teacher. Luke’s dream is to be a working stage actor while Adam can’t make up his mind as to his life’s work. Despite their different views, their is a spark between them that allows them to coexist and live together. Their relationship is sexual, it is romantic, and it is true love.
But there are several things that inhibit their relationship. Luke is not “out” to his conservative Bible-belt parents and Luke is constantly evangelizing Adam into becoming a “believer” before the day of Reckoning. Luke believes that without faith, Adam will end up in hell with all the Jews, Moslems , and anesthetist. Adam over analyzes most things and he is obsessed with his health and looks.
With sharp humor and a truthfulness that is refreshing, we see these two struggle to make their relationship work. They get help from their “fag-hag” friend Holly (Aja Wiltshire). When Luke get hit by a taxi, everything changes as Adam is forced to deal with Luke’s parents and his other friend, Brandon (Curtis Jackson).
Next Fall is told both in the present and the past via flashbacks. The hospital scenes are a tad awkward and predictable. Arlene (Lona Livingston), Luke’s mother is quirky and she steals the early hospital scenes while Butch (Jim Morley) is the bigoted racist narrow-minded father who can’t face the possibility of his son being gay. I’m still wondering why Playwright Nauffts has the Brandon character in this play since he adds very little to the story?
This play casts a new light on how one’s beliefs can affect a relationship, especially when a gay guy has so much built-in guilt that he prays for forgiveness after having sex with his partner. Luke and Adam just don’t ring true. I don’t buy that they would stay together for five years given that they each have so many polarizing differences. Much of Next Fall is too melodramatic and manipulative to be believable. The ending stretches credulity. The acting was fine especially from Ryan Hamlin as the self-doubting Adam. It’s the story that I find contrived.
Talk Theatre podcast
Date Reviewed: April 26, 2013
For more info checkout the Next Fall page at theatreinchicago.com
At BoHo Theatre @ Heartland Studio, 7016 N. Glenwood, Chicago, IL, call 773-828-9129, www.astonrep.com, tickets $20 – $15 students & seniors, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through May 25, 2013