Saturday, July 11, 2009
Photo: Francesco Carrrozzini
Writing a play of ideas that features believable characters seems to be one of the more difficult challenges in playwrighting. All too often, the ideas are presented didactically and the characters are reduced to wind-up points of view. In Next Fall, Geoffrey Nauffts manages to avoid these pitfalls, examining a fascinating array of ideas (religion, homophobia, family) through the depiction of authentic complicated people dealing with love, sex, and loss. At the beginning of Next Fall, a few people sit in a hospital waiting room in varying states of stress and fear. As others join them, their relationships to each other--and to the hospitalized person--gradually become clear to us, but not necessarily to each other. Flashbacks introduce us to the central characters--a gay couple composed of a young religious Christian who is not out to his parents and an older atheist who has little patience for closets. Naufft and director Sheryl Kaller are remarkably even-handed in their presentation of the various personalities, allowing each deep humanity and labeling no one as hero or villain. The excellent performances by, in particular, Patrick Breen and Cotter Smith, reveal the characters in all the flawed beauty of real people.