There's a lot to think about in Next Fall, the 2009 play from writer Geoffrey Nauffts which won critical praise on Broadway and is being staged for the first time in Houston at Obsidian Art Space.
The comedic drama follows Adam and Luke, two gay men in a relationship where faith is playing a divisive role. Adam is an atheist--though his hypochondria borders on a religious obsession--and Luke is a devout Christian. Scenes jump between a tense present in a hospital waiting room and the past, which show how the couple met, began dating and grapple with their perspectives on a higher power.
With a minimalist set in this production from Celebration Theatre, the focus is definitely on the actors and they do not disappoint. Brad Goertz as Adam and Zach Lewis as Luke have an endearing chemistry that makes their on-stage romance work. But it's Tek Wilson as Luke's mother Arlene whose sweet drawl and naiveté steal the show.
Nauffts' quick dialogue and witty writing style, coupled with a complex yet believable storyline, are what endear audiences to Next Fall. Regardless of the characters' sexual orientation, their love for one another, and the battles they face are vivid. So too are Luke's parents. Far from being backwoods Southern archetypes, Butch and Arlene are multidimensional, exhibiting flaws that feed the background of their son and prompt some self-reflection in the audience. These are characters we all know in some form or another-the self-possessed gay man, the religious zealot, the uncertain believer. These individual personalities and their forced coexistence are what make the play work as a commentary for where the country stands on gay rights issues.
Next Fall is playing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 15 at Obsidian Art Space in the Heights, 3522 White Oak Dr. Tickets are $25. Click here to purchase.