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Next Fall

  • Theater, Drama
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Broadway review by Adam Feldman

Next Fall has risen to Broadway with its lovely intimacy intact; will Broadway audiences meet it there? When Geoffrey Nauffts’s genre-bending play—part romantic comedy, part medical drama, part Venn diagram of love and religion—debuted last June, we were taken not only with the gentle intelligence and believability of the writing, but also with the high quality of Sheryl Kaller’s direction and ensemble of actors. None of the latter are matinee names, and the show’s producers have demonstrated bravery and good taste in keeping them all aboard for the transfer. The production feels like a leap of faith.

That is appropriate, since so much of Nauffts’s play has faith (in God, in our partners, in ourselves) as its central concern. The handsome young Luke (Heusinger) is both actively Christian and gay—a combination that his atheist boyfriend, Adam (Breen), finds baffling and hurtful. But Nauffts treats it respectfully as Next Fall sways back and forth in time, between flashbacks to their relationship and anxious moments in the waiting room of the hospital where Luke has been taken after a head injury. The play’s shifts of tone—large ones between scenes and subtle ones within them—are skillfully navigated by the cast, which also includes Cotter Smith as Luke’s hard-nosed father, Connie Ray as his free-spirited mother, and Maddie Corman and Sean Dugan as concerned friends. The best new American play of the Broadway season, Next Fall leaves you thinking about rapture and rupture. If you go, which you should, be prepared to laugh some, perhaps to cry some, and then to rise in appreciation.

Helen Hayes Theatre. By Geoffrey Nauffts. Dir. Sheryl Kaller. With Patrick Breen, Patrick Heusinger. 2hrs 15mins. One intermission.


Off Broadway review by Adam Feldman (June 10, 2009):

The summer is not usually a great time to catch a play: After a frantic rush to the season’s finish line in early May, Broadway and Off Broadway tend to collapse into prolonged estivation. Happily, there are exceptions to this doziness. You needn’t wait until the coming autumn, for example, to catch Next Fall, Geoffrey Nauffts’s funny, romantic, truthful and heartbreaking new drama. You really needn’t wait at all, in fact: This beautifully shaped piece, produced by Naked Angels, should ideally be seen right away.

Next Fall begins in the waiting room of the hospital where Luke (Heusinger) has been taken after a life-threatening head injury, and unfolds largely in flashbacks to scenes from the previous five years of his relationship with the somewhat older Adam (Breen). The hunky, Southern-born Luke is a devout Christian, which fills him with guilt about being gay—he sometimes prays after sex—but also gives him a sense of confidence and security that the neurotic Adam, a hypochondriacal atheist, decidedly lacks. I don’t remember the last time I saw a gay relationship portrayed with such nuance onstage—a credit to Nauffts’s astute writing, but also to Sheryl Kaller’s sensitive direction of a top-notch cast of six. (Connie Ray and Cotter Smith play Luke’s parents; Maddie Corman and Sean Dugan are friends of the couple.) By the second act, the Peter Jay Sharp Theater is a chamber of sniffles, but this is no mere tearjerker. It’s a tear-earner: Next Fall merits every drop.

Peter Jay Sharp Theater. By Geoffrey Nauffts. Dir. Sheryl Kaller. With Patrick Breen, Patrick Heusinger. 2hrs 10mins. One intermission.


Event website:
$81.50–$116.50, premium $176.50–$226.50
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