"Next Fall" is the kind of play you can’t help but get emotionally involved in. An extended family is living through a life-and-death situation while flashbacks give us the details of their relationships. The people are sometimes emotionally vicious toward each other, but they come to accept that their love is flawed but genuine.
Author Geoffrey Nauffts’ gay couple are battling huge issues. Adam is a 40-ish, agnostic, hypochondriac liberal, while Luke is a 20-ish, devout Catholic. Adam doesn’t seem to respect anyone with any kind of religious beliefs.
Luke’s family doesn’t know the young man is gay and wonders why Adam hangs around so much. A tragedy brings the group together, and while it isn’t always pretty, it deepens their ability to care about different kinds of people.
The play works only if we believe in these characters and don’t see them merely as types.
The actors are mostly talented, but directors Tobie Romzek and JR Thomas have not been able to create a convincing reality base.
Thom Chrastaka whines his way through the role of Adam, and he and Nicholas Steven King (as Luke) are never able to convince us that we are watching two people growing to care for one another.
Tracy Blackwell, as an eccentric, loud-mouth, nonstop talker, neurotic mother, concentrates so hard on being funny, that it’s impossible take her seriously as she later goes through a serious change in attitude.
As a young family friend, Tyson Croft constantly signals to the audience what his character is thinking.
One gem of a scene features Luke’s no-nonsense father (Rik Wade) on a couch awkwardly trying to tell his son that he liked an amateur play he saw him in. It’s not easy for the man to say that because he’s really trying to tell Luke "I love you" and just can’t. It’s a joy to watch King light up in appreciation of one of the very few intimate conversations he has ever had with Dad. The talk doesn’t turn out well, but it’s a beautifully defining moment.
I wish the production had more such effortless communications rather than so much intense acting.
Anthony Del Valle can be reached at email@example.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.REVIEW
What: "Next Fall"
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Where: Onyx Theatre, 953 E. Sahara, No. 16
Tickets: $15-$20 (732-7225; onyxtheatre.com)