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Next Fall at AstonRep Theatre Company | Theater review

Luke and Adam's divergent views of religion weigh on their relationship in Geoffrey Nauffts's 2009 drama.

Photograph: Jeremiah Barr
Mark Jacob Chaitin and Ryan Hamlin in Next Fall at AstonRep Theatre Company

Luke, an aspiring young New York stage actor and cater waiter, is his own religious fundamentalist of sorts. He prays before meals, believes firmly in the power of Christ's salvation, and has sex with men. Gay Christians are hardly an anomaly, but unlike self loathing closet cases or followers of denominations that espouse reformed views on sexuality, Luke doesn't perform theological acrobatics to reconcile his conflicting lifestyle choices. He's a sinner in his own eyes whose ongoing repentance, he believes, will land him a spot in Heaven—and at odds with his doubting lover.

Geoffrey Nauffts's LGBT drama was something of a critical darling when it opened in 2010 for reasons ostensibly more nuanced than its surface conflict of religious doctrine vs. personal identity. When the central romance between 40-year-old Adam (Ryan Hamlin) and 20-something Luke (Mark Jacob Chaitin) is tested by tragedy, the pair is already balancing disparities in their differing views, the level of support they have from their families, experiences with former lovers and their age discrepancy (made void here by casting actors who appear close in age).

Nauffts's non-chronological structure drops us in on the pair during different milestones of their relationship, but Derek Bertelson's AstonRep production feels stuck in its "meet cute" phase. We're informed, bluntly, of the progressing courtship via transitional video packages, but that doesn't save huge, core latter-day arguments from feeling like minor spats.

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