It’s a situation most of us have found ourselves in at one time or another. Why disrupt a seemingly on-track relationship by addressing something that could be put off until “next fall”? But what if we find that life is short and “next fall” might not be an option? This is the scenario faced by the characters in the Tony-nominated play Next Fall, currently being produced at the Jungle Theater.
At its core, Next Fall is a love story between two men; one that walks a fine line between comedy and drama. Told in a non-linear fashion, the play opens in a hospital waiting room, where friends and family eagerly await word on the state of Luke (Neal Skoy) following an accident. Among those anxiously waiting are Luke’s live-in boyfriend, Adam (Garry Geiken), and Luke’s divorced parents (Maggie Bearmon Pistner and Stephen Yoakam), who are unaware of their son’s homosexuality. Interspersed with scenes at the hospital are various vignettes showing how Luke and Adam first met five years prior, as well as the various dynamics of their relationship. The key issue at play in the relationship is Luke and Adam’s differing religious beliefs. Adam, an atheist, struggles to understand how their relationship fits into Luke’s devout Christian beliefs.
|next fall, presented through may 22 at the jungle theater. for tickets ($20-$35) and information, see jungletheater.com.|
Geoffrey Nauffts’s Tony-nominated script is at times hilarious and at other times it pulls at the heartstrings. And while Adam and Luke are at the center of the play, Next Fall addresses a variety of friendships and relationships, and how our beliefs impact our interactions.
As Adam’s straight-laced father, Butch, Yoakam portrays a man who stifles his son from coming out, but is multi-layered enough that he doesn’t become a stock character. Yoakam’s performance sets the bar for his fellow actors. Once Butch makes his way on stage, everyone ups their game. Geiken is endearing as Adam, the candle salesman experiencing a mid-life crisis before he meets Luke. And as Luke, Skoy breathes a youthful energy to the play while dutifully committing to his character’s religious beliefs without mocking them. Pistner is loveable as Luke’s eccentric mother, if not a bit overstated. Rounding out the cast, Andrea Leap and Sasha Andreev don’t quite feel like they’re in the same play as the others, with Leap a bit too overexaggerated and Andreev almost the opposite so.
More impressive is director Joel Sass’s set design. The interactions in the play are beautifully framed by glowing cubes encasing the stage, which illuminate in a variety of hues depending on the scene. A curtain pulled between scenes moves the audience from one vignette to another, while also allowing pause for reflection.
While the play isn’t perfect—it lacks a definite resolution and feels a little self-indulgent at times—Next Fall is a worthy option for a theatrical night out. Followers of the Broadway scene will want to take advantage of the opportunity to see this acclaimed play in its area debut, but it may not be the right fit for everyone.