Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts, Speakeasy Stage, Roberts Studio Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 9/15/11-10/15/11, http://www.speakeasystage.com/doc.php?section=showpage&page=nextfall.
Reviewed by Becca Kidwell
“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” Thomas à Kempis
(Boston, MA) Moments pass in a heartbeat. All that’s left is waiting…waiting in hope…waiting in fear; the only choice is waiting together or waiting alone. Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts does not try to moralize or condescend; it leaves its audience with the hope that love will transcend all differences. The friends and family of the comatose Luke see the world through different viewpoints but connect at the core of their being–in love.
Adam, played by Will McGarrahan, begins to flashback to various moments in his relationship with Luke. Casual flirtation leads to a lasting relationship–but not without conflict. Luke (Dan Roach) is a fundamentalist Christian and Adam is an atheist. Adam questions Luke’s devoutness. Luke questions Adam’s unbelief. Luke delays telling his parents about the relationship until it’s too late.
Robert Walsh portrays Luke’s loving father Butch who seemingly bestowed his beliefs upon his son. He is not a man who will listen, but he cares. His estranged wife, Arlene, played by Amelia Broome shares their Christian faith but is more open to understanding. Luke’s friends Brandon (Kevin Kaine) and Holly (Deb Martin) match the range of faith from a strict religious follower to a mystic agnostic.
Janie E. Howland’s inventive “hospital curtain” design between the hospital, the apartment, and other locations allow for seamless transitions between the past and the present. With Scott Edmiston’s fluid direction, the audience sees the true focus of the show: the connection of Luke’s family.
The well-crafted ensemble works together to build an environment of trust and love. The laughter and tears intertwine in a flawless portrait. By the end of the play, no answers are given, no truths are told; but connections are made and support is gained. Luke brings his family together without words to a place where words don’t matter. Victor Hugo wrote, “the supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” Speakeasy’s production of Next Fall supplies the hunger we all have for: simple, universal, and resplendent acceptance.