By Jordan Wright (Photo/Michael DeBlois)
When Luke (Frederick Dechow) and Adam (Richard Isaacs) meet at a rooftop party in New York City they click despite their differences.
Luke is a young actor and cater waiter, and Adam — once an aspiring writer — is wallowing in a midlife crisis at a dead-end job at his friend Holly’s candle shop. Though they have opposing views (Luke prays after sex while Adam is a dyed-in-the-wool atheist) they move in together.
Adam feels 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,” until Luke has a life-threatening accident. His condition forces Adam to account for Luke’s religious philosophy. And deal with Luke’s homophobic parents.
Geoffrey Nauffts’ comic drama “Next Fall,” which was first brought to Broadway in 2010 by producers Elton John and David Furnish, examines the opposing forces of conflict and sacrifice within a relationship using a script filled with wry wit, a steady stream of funny lines and deadpan sarcasm.
The play opens in a hospital waiting room, 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 are unaware their son is gay. From there, the action shifts back and forth from the men’s Bleeker Street apartment, where the their relationship strengthens despite their differences, to the hospital where Adam must hide their love from Luke’s parents.
Employing a clever technique, director Rob Batarla takes us through the 13 scene changes — from hospital to apartment and back — using 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 not very pristine past. Meanwhile, Adam struggles to comprehend Brandon, Luke’s former boyfriend, who practices gay sex, but doesn’t believe in a gay relationship. It is a piece that addresses familiar themes of faith, commitment and love.
The actors in this provocative production are in sync with their characters throughout. Dechow plays Luke with subtlety and restraint while Isaacs gives Adam an endearingly derisive quality using a vast repertoire of facial expressions. Martin imbues Holly with charm and verve. Whitehurst and Nichols-Grimes, well known in the local theater community, embody characters that reveal depth as well as empathy.
“Next Fall” runs through March 15 at Port City Playhouse at The Lab at Convergence, 1819 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria. For tickets and information, visit www.portcityplayhouse.org.