March 3, 2014
Special to The Alexandria Times
When Luke (Frederick Dechow) and Adam (Richard Isaacs) meet at a rooftop party in New York City they click, despite their disparities. Luke is a young aspiring actor and “cater waiter”, and Adam once an aspiring writer wallows in a mid-life crisis at a dead end job at his friend Holly’s candle shop. Though they have opposing views, Luke prays after sex and Adam is a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, they move in together. And though Adam feels as though all the end-of-the-world stuff and the who’s-going-to-heaven and who’s-going-to-hell routine is “a bit Vegas”, when Luke has a life-threatening accident Adam must take into account Luke’s religious philosophy.
Geoffrey Nauffts’ comic drama Next Fall, first brought to Broadway in 2010 by Producers Elton John and David Furnish, examines the opposing forces of conflict and sacrifice within a relationship in a script filled with wry wit, a steady stream of funny lines and deadpan sarcasm.
The play opens in a waiting room at New York’s Beth Israel Medical Center where Brandon (Andy De), Holly (Suzanne Martin), Arlene (Gayle Nichols-Grimes), Butch (Cal Whitehurst) and Adam await news of Luke’s condition. Adam has to figure out how to deal with Arlene and Butch, Luke’s homophobic parents who don’t know their son is gay. For the rest of the play the action shifts back and forth from the men’s Bleeker Street apartment, where the men’s relationship begins to strengthen despite their differences, to the hospital where Adam must hide their love from Luke’s parents.
In a clever technique Director Rob Batarla transitions the thirteen scene changes from hospital to apartment and back with music of the period and projections of grainy black and white photographs of the men throughout their five-year relationship.
There are awkward exchanges between Arlene and Adam as when she surprises him by confessing her fears and a not very pristine past while Adam struggles to comprehend Brandon, Luke’s former boyfriend, who practices gay sex yet doesn’t believe in a gay relationship. Notwithstanding the proclivity of the three gay characters, the play addresses familiar themes of faith, commitment and love.
The cast in this provocative production is in synch throughout. Dechow plays Luke with subtlety and restraint, Isaacs gives Adam an endearingly derisive quality using a vast repertoire of facial expressions, and Martin imbues Holly with charm and verve. Whitehurst and Nichols-Grimes, both well known in the local theatre community, craft characters that reveal depth as well as empathy.
At Port City Playhouse at The Lab at Convergence, 1819 North Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA 22302. Remaining performances are on the following dates – February 28, March 1, 7, 8, 11, 14, & 15 at 8pm. Matinees on March 8 & 15 at 2pm. For tickets and information visit www.portcityplayhouse.org.