Good Theater presents the Maine premiere of this recent Tony Award nominee for Best Play. NEXT FALL takes a witty and provocative look at faith, commitment and unconditional love and goes beyond a typical love story. This timely and compelling new American play forces us all to examine what it means to “believe,” and what it might cost us not to.
“The funniest heartbreaker in town…A smart, sensitive, immensely appealing and utterly contemporary New York comedy.” - New York Times
“Five Stars. The best new American play of the Broadway season…” - Time Out New York
“Compassionate, laugh-filled and enormously entertaining.” - Associated Press
“A daring new drama.” – Entertainment Weekly
NEXT FALL by Geoffrey Nauffts opened off-Broadway in the spring of 2009. Rave reviews resulted in three extensions to the limited engagement. Subsequently the show transferred to the Helen Hayes Theatre on Broadway opening March 11 2010 after previews began on February 16. The show received two 2010 Tony Award nominations for Best Play and Best Director. NEXT FALL was also nominated for two Drama Desk awards including Best Play as well as the Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play. It won the Outer Critics’ John Gassner Award for playwriting.
The Good Theater production of NEXT FALL stars Equity actors Rob Cameron, Moira Driscoll and Abbie Killeen along side Joe Bearor, Matt Delamater and Tony Reilly. Brian P. Allen, Good Theater’s Artistic Director, directs with set design by Craig Robinson, costume design by Justin Cote, who also serves as the production stage manager, lighting design by Iain Oddlin, and Stephen Underwood is the technical director.
The story of NEXT FALL revolves around Luke who believes in God and Adam who believes in everything else. NEXT FALL portrays the ups and downs of this unlikely couple’s five-year relationship with sharp humor and unflinching honesty. And when an accident changes everything, Adam must turn to Luke’s family and friends for support
and answers. NEXT FALL paints a beautiful and funny portrait of modern romance, asking the hard questions about commitment, love, and faith.
“NEXT FALL” AN EXPERIENCE NOT TO BE MISSED
Portland Daily Sun by Michael J. Tobin, 2/2/2012
Every so often, if your lucky, you get to experience the perfect play. Good Theater, of Portland, opened the new year with the dramedy, Next Fall, by Geoffrey Nauffts and brought to the stage one of the best plays I have seen in a very long time. Start to finish, this is an experience not to be missed.
This play is about two men in a committed relationship with a twist: Luke is devoutly religious and Adam is an atheist. The play revolves around their five-year relationship and how they make it work despite their differences. However, when an accident changes everything, Adam must look within himself and those around him for support and answers. Although Next Fall involves two men, it's theme is universal and paints a beautiful and funny portrait of modern romance, asking hard questions about commitment, love, and faith that anyone can relate to.
Directed by Brian P. Allen, Next Fall is full of sharp humor and unflinching honesty with a Broadway caliber cast of six. Allen moves the play effortlessly from present day to flashbacks, each scene packed full of emotional and physical moments that are as comfortable as if you were watching your favorite long-running sitcom. Regardless if you're straight, gay or questioning, Allen lets the audience take their own journey with unobtrusive and skillful direction.
Rob Cameron (Adam), is a solid acting foundation for the cast to build and play upon. Cameron's performance is flawless and worth the price of admission. Rather he's being the very funny hypochondriacal, fatalistic or the emotional loving partner, Cameron "is" Adam and takes the audience on a painfully beautiful journey of life and love. Joe Bearor (Luke) is Cameron's equal in every way and gives a strong performance that will rip you apart emotionally as he struggles with the challenges of faith and relationships. For this play to work, you must believe that despite their essential dissimilarities, Adam and Luke are meant to be together. The chemistry between Cameron and Bearor is without question and incredibly natural.
And the same is true of everyone else: Tony Reilly (Butch) and Moira Driscoll (Arlene) are Luke’s divorced parents. Reilly's born-again fundamentalist is disturbingly real.
Reilly's performance is layered heavily on the anti-gay, but his final moments break barriers with emotional force. Driscoll's performance as the reformed wild woman of Southern-fried eccentricities, makes her one of the funniest actresses in Maine. Abigail Killeen (Holly) plays Adam’s longtime confidante with humor and a heart warming glue that tries to keep everyone together. Matt Delamater (Brandon) plays an old friend of Luke’s who won’t accept his friend’s relationship with Adam. Delamater's character is perhaps the hardest one to act in the show, due to its underlying secrets. In act two, Delamater's acting cork finally gets unplugged as he reveals a very disturbing yet very moving revelation.
Set design by Craig Robinson is perfect. Robinson creates a roomy playground of suggested locations for the actors to play on, making transitions between scenes smooth and quick. Iain Odlin (Lighting Designer) and Stephen Underwood (Sound Designer) compliment Allen's direction and vision with perfect color, focus and music. Justin Cote (Costume Designer) dresses everyone appropriately, matching styles, colors and accessories to their characters.
At the show's end, patron tears flowed like the big and uneasy questions this play asks. Don’t expect them to go away when the play is over. This is one journey that will stay with you long after you leave the theater.
GOOD THEATER WRESTLES WITH LOVE AND SIN
The Portland Phoenix, by Megan Grumbling, 2/1/2012
There's only one major problem in the love between Adam (Rob Cameron), a sarcastic would-be teacher working in retail, and Luke (Joe Bearor), an aspiring young actor. It's not that Luke is a good decade Adam's junior (that's actually pretty hot) or that Adam is a raging hypochondriac. The problem, in Geoffrey Nauffts's comedic drama Next Fall, directed by Brian P. Allen at the Good Theater, is that Luke considers their love a sin.
Don't get Luke wrong. "That was some amazing sinning we just did," he grins to casually atheistic Adam on a morning soon after they've met downtown in New York City. But it's no joke: Luke is an unwaveringly devout Christian, one who accepts the traditional dictum against his own sexuality. As he and Adam deepen their commitment over five years, Luke's faith creates ever more disharmony between them — Adam is hurt by Luke's prayers after sex; Luke by Adam's refusal to be saved. But what really blows the
conflict open is a terrible car accident that lands Luke comatose and brain-damaged in the hospital. Next Fall jumps us back and forth between scenes before the accident, chronicling the men's relationship, and after, when Luke's parents, friends, and lover wait, commune, and sometimes do philosophical battle in a hospital waiting room.
Luke and Adam's timeline stretches across the stage visually in soft taupe tones: An apartment, a waiting room, and a church pew. On the apartment end, we encounter the couple and their self-described "fag hag" friend Holly (Abigail Killeen), who owns a tchotchke shop; the waiting room brings Holly and Adam together with Luke's divorced Southern parents Arlene (Moira Driscoll), who is kind, frank, and funny but has been an addict; and brash man's man Butch (Tony Reilly), whose name sort of says it all. Together, whether recalling Luke's starring turn in Our Town or smoldering over evolution, they create a richly textured gestalt of the complicated love that the unconscious man has inspired.
In Bearor's hands, that man is sweetly, mischievously, at times angelically endearing, and brings a beautiful and witty warmth to his and Adam's rapport — the two of them wrestling/cuddling on the couch is a delight of affection. But Bearor is also adept at turning on Luke's earnest, immovable surety about his faith, which so confounds and infuriates his lover, and making that belief seem less a contradiction than a complexity in character. As his older, wryer, less graceful partner, Cameron is both funny and affecting as he shows the wariness and the deep desire for intimacy with which Adam is slowly drawn out and into love.
Adam is of a different cohort than Luke in both age and faith, and Cameron's irreverent rapport with Killeen's vibrant, bantering Holly poses a revealing contrast to his romantic relationship. Further contrasts come in the terse, mysterious, Bible-carrying character of Brandon (Matt Delamater, evocative in a difficult, elusive role), who turns up at the hospital, and who has had an undisclosed species of relationship with Luke. And as Luke's parents, Driscoll and Reilly do beautiful and moving work balancing what they do and do not understand about their son, positioning their own beliefs and grief against those of Luke's friends; they make poignant characters out of often comic, easily caricatured types.
While the questions facing all of these characters are deep and difficult, Nauffts's script keeps things accessible, and even comedic, as much as possible — viewers of Seinfeld or other sitcoms will recognize the tropes, jokes, and moments of clarity. It makes for a show that feels comfortably familiar, with much of its agony tenderly diffused into comedy, even its quandaries present nothing like an easy answer.
“NEXT FALL” DELIVERS AN EMOTIONAL PUNCH
The Portland Press Herald, by April Boyle, 1/29/2012
Most people would agree that relationships are challenging, no matter who you are, or what kind of relationship you are trying to forge. When it comes to matters of the heart, things get even trickier. That said, what would happen if two men -- one a devout Christian, and the other an unwavering non-believer -- tried to make a go of it?
In "Next Fall," playwright Geoffrey Nauffts takes the audience on an emotional journey that explores the impact religion can have on a relationship, and what that could mean for a gay couple.
The audience is thrust into the storyline mid-stream, unsure who the characters are, and exactly why they are gathered in the waiting room of a Jewish hospital. Through a series of flashbacks that leap forward and backward in time, the missing pieces begin falling into place, and Luke (Joe Bearor) and Adam's (Rob Cameron) complex story slowly unfolds.
The pair first met five years prior at a party thrown by Adam's friend Holly (Abigail Killeen). It's a party for Overeaters Anonymous, Holly's most recent interest, despite the fact she is not overweight.
Luke, who is working as a waiter at the party, comes to Adam's aid when Adam, an incurable hypochondriac, thinks he's having a heart attack. The audience learns that Luke, a man in his late 20s, is a fledgling actor, and Adam, age 40, is in the throes of a mid-life crisis.
As the scene winds to a close, Adam decides to quit his job as a candle salesman at Holly's shop, hoping to kick-start his thus-far disappointing life.
Luke had invited Adam to see him perform in an upcoming play. When the story flashes to the past, again, it's the morning after a performance and Luke is cooking breakfast at Adam's apartment.
While they are eating, Adam discovers Luke believes strongly in God and the ideology that all who believe in God, and ask for his forgiveness, will go to heaven, regardless of their deeds. Adam also learns that Luke believes their lifestyle is a sin that requires daily atonement. The first of many heated, controversial arguments ensues.
Nauffts provides in-depth character development of not just Luke and Adam, but also of Holly, Luke's friend Brandon (Matt Delamater) and Luke's parents, Butch (Tony Reilly) and Arlene (Moira Driscoll). He makes the audience care for the characters and ultimately feel their pain.
It would do the play an injustice to reveal more of the storyline. Let's just say you might want to consider having a box of tissues handy for this one.
Director Brian P. Allen has chosen a superb cast of actors who really know how to deliver one heck of an emotional punch that leaves your stomach in knots. And, if you do manage to stave off the waterworks, one look at the mottled, tear-streaked faces of the actors at the end could rattle the composure of even the most stoic of audience members.
“NEXT FALL” REVIEW
The Journal Tribune, by Gregory Morell, 2/2/2012
Portland’s GOOD THEATER has presented an impressive season of terrific drama in their tenth year and their current production of NEXT FALL adds to the richness.
Smartly directed, beautifully paced through 14 scenes, and touchingly acted by a tight ensemble of six actors, this is an intimate drama of personal and familial conflict. The cleverly crafted scene sequence jumps back and forth in time, taking us in and out of a hospital waiting room after a mortal traffic accident.
Our central character, Luke, is a law school drop out struggling with an acting career in New York City and the personal dilemma of trying to rectify his traditional Christian religious beliefs with his active homosexual lifestyle. Although openly honest about his sexuality with his friends and co-workers his gayness is a closely guarded secret to his family, especially to his red necked successful southern Georgia businessman of a father, aptly named “Butch.“
As the play opens Luke’s estranged parents and his friends are gathered in a hospital waiting room anxiously expecting news from doctors as Luke lies in a coma after being struck by a taxi on a city sidewalk.
NEXT FALL presents glimpses of the past in an odd chronology. These poignant glimpses expose the unusual and thought provoking relationship conflicts that fuel this interesting story of discovery.
Complexity of relationship is fully explored in the play’s two acts. Although his parents have been estranged for years they are deeply devoted to each other and their son. His happy and strongly forged gay partnership with his long time lover is plagued by Luke’s insistence to keep their relationship a family secret and additionally by Luke’s religious hypocrisy.
When Dad suddenly arrives in New York unannounced, and telephones informing Luke that he is on the way over for a first visit to Luke’s apartment, an apartment Luke has shared with his gay partner Adam for four years, all the secrets and deceptions come bubbling to surface. Luke frenetically tries to “de-gay” the apartment as he is harassed by Adam who insists that he finally confront Dad with the truth. The comedy inherent in this humorous conflagration is joyously savored by the audience who cannot help but laugh at the shenanigans.
Most interesting however, is the bizarre relationship that Luke shares with his friend Brandon. Throughout most of the play Brandon remains a secretive and reticent foil to his colorful and highly animated fellow cast members. Brandon’s tense brooding is artfully rendered by actor Matt Delamater who very successfully keeps the audience guessing as to how he figures into this web of conflict. He is like an iceberg whose true identity likes frozen beneath the surface.
When Brandon’s secrets are finally revealed near the conclusion of the play the result is shocking.
A plethora of serious themes are explored in this excellently drawn drama and the intimacy of the Good Theater playhouse continues to reward its audiences with superb theater craft and memorable performances. Brian Allen and his talented acting ensembles should be sought out.
Adam – Rob Cameron*
Luke – Joe Bearor
Holly – Abbie Killeen*
Butch – Tony Reilly
Arlene – Moira Driscoll
Brandon – Matt Delamater
Directed by Brian P. Allen
Set Design/Assistant Tech Director/Photography – Craig Robinson
Costumes/Production Stage Manager – Justin Cote
Lighting Iain Odlin
Dramaturge/Assistant Director – Meredith Lamothe
Tech Director – Stephen Underwood
Scenic Artist – Janet Montgomery
* Member Actors' Equity Association