Next Fall (Southwark Playhouse)

Producer: James Quaife Productions   Director: Luke Sheppard

 

NEXT FALL portrays the ups and downs of Adam and Luke’s long term relationship and how they make it work – despite their differences. Luke is devoutly religious, while Adam is an atheist. However, following an unexpected accident which changes everything, Adam must turn to Luke’s family and friends for support…and answers.

 

Geoffrey Nauffts won the John Gassner Award at the Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best New American Play for Next Fall. The play was also nominated for Outstanding Play at the Drama Desk Awards (2010), Outstanding New Broadway Play at the Outer Critics Circle Awards (2010) and Best Play at the Tony Awards (2010).

 

★★★★ The Stage, Mark Shenton:

‘[…] the bold step to bringing [Next Fall] to London has been undertaken by two rising 20-something producers, who have done a seriously classy job of doing so.

Under the detailed direction of Luke Sheppard, who achieves an easy rhythm in its cross-cutting between scenes set in the present (when Luke lies critically ill in hospital) and to past moments in his relationship with his boyfriend Adam, Nauffts’ play repackages some familiar elements in novel ways.

The structure amplifies the urgency of the play’s debate, and it is played with truthful, touching conviction by a cast led by Charlie Condou’s Adam and Martin Delaney’s Luke, whose relationship feels very tangible. There’s both superb acting and technical support around them, including atmospheric incidental music by Pippa Cleary and a smart set design by David Woodhead.

Verdict: Compelling and affecting New York play is giving a smart UK premiere.

 

★★★★ Jonathan Baz –  jonathanbaz.com:

‘All the performances in this meticulously researched piece are top notch, with Mitchell Mullen’s Butch, Luke’s redneck father, a brilliantly crafted study of a man who has lived his life believing that gays and blacks should be lynched, now having to cope with the consequences of having denied to himself his son’s sexuality. In a performance that ranges from rage to heartbreak, Mullen is masterful.

There is good work all round, Sirine Saba’s Jewish Holly proving to be the glue struggling to sustain the damaged people around her and who all love Luke for different reasons. Nancy Crane is Luke’s manic yet fragile mother Arlene, in a performance that perceptively combines a mother’s agony for her wounded child, with a desperate lurch into the welcoming arms of anti-depressants.

Next Fall is one of the more impressive productions of gay theatre in recent years. The performances are perfect and the play makes for a troubling and thought provoking night.

The Times, Dominic Cavendish:

‘Some fine acting in Luke Sheppard’s production brings out the best in Naufft’s beautiful writing. You think you know these characters: the self-loathing gay man, the homophobic parents, the square Christian friend. Yet each proves to be a person, not a type. Nancy Crane plays Luke’s mum Arlene, a gabby Southerner with a sensitive streak. Ben Cura plays the strait-laced Brandon, a handsome gay Christian who insists that gay sex is more forgivable than gay love. And the magnificent Mitchell Mullen ensures that there is more than just a glowering alpha-male hostility to Luke’s dad, Butch.’

 

whatsonstage.com, Jane Martin:

‘Nauffts’ deft writing and Luke Sheppard’s sharp direction bring a great deal of humour to this examination of sexuality, friendship and family. Nancy Crane sparkles brilliantly in the opening scene as tactless, outspoken and deeply vulnerable Arlene, Luke’s estranged mother, riding roughshod over his friends with too much charm for anyone to realise quite what she’s doing. And Sirine Saba is completely engaging as Adam’s warm-hearted employer Holly. With a wonderfully expressive face and a voice brimming with emotion, she delivers some of the best lines of the show, including a cracker about her hairy PE teacher. Mitchell Mullen’s powerful physical presence makes his alpha-male posturing as Butch entirely convincing – and his final collapse all the more shocking.’

 

 

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ARLENE Nancy Crane
BRANDON Ben Cura
ADAM Charlie Condou
HOLLY Sirine Saba
BUTCH Mitchell Mullen
LUKE Martin Delaney
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SOPHIE PARROTT CDG