Venue: Seymour Centre (Chippendale NSW), Oct 26 – Nov 19, 2016
Playwright: Geoffrey Nauffts
Director: Andy Leonard
Cast: Cormac Costello, Mark Dessaix, Alex Ewan, Victoria Greiner, Mary Anne Halpin, Darrin Redgate
Luke is a gay man who believes in God and all that his church teaches. The contradictions that exist between his religion and his sex life are complex, but Luke is able to create enough justification for himself to negotiate and tolerate those intense personal discords. When he falls in love with the agnostic Adam, things become destabilised and the couple has to confront not only their spiritual incompatibility, but also the problem of Luke’s refusal to come out to his parents.
Geoffrey Nauffts’ Next Fall is a romantic tragicomedy that deals with the issue of familial and internal oppression that can often figure in unconventional or non-traditional relationships. In Luke’s case, it is about the homophobia he endures from his family, as well as his own internalised hatred that come into focus, and we observe that the ones who suffer the most, are the lovebirds themselves, while Luke’s church and parents are blissfully oblivious to the damage they cause.
The writing is charming, with excellent comedy and an honest melancholy intermingling for a play that takes aim directly, at the heart. It is surprisingly old fashioned, with little that would prevent it from being re-contextualised from 2009 to, say, 1978, revealing that while thoroughly enjoyable, the work offers nothing that has not already been said many times before. Society’s snail-paced advancement for queer movements around the world is truly disappointing.
Andy Leonard proves himself to be an earnest director, whose straightforward approach tells the story with clarity and an effective sentimentality. Actors in the piece are similarly impassioned. Alex Ewan’s naturalistic style provides Luke with a convincing innocence that helps us make sense of his predicament. Adam is played by Darrin Redgate who entertains with effective comedy and authentic emotions. Mary Anne Halpin and Cormac Costello, as Luke’s flamboyant parents, are probably the most impressive of the cast. Both are theatrical yet warm with their presence, executing precise and nuanced interpretations of their parts that give the show an excellent sense of texture and credibility.
People like us, in places that are free and rich, must take responsibility for our own happiness. Luke thinks that he is answerable to a higher power, but what the facts disclose, is that the only one who jeopardises his relationship with Adam, is himself. Of course, this is a glaring reality that everyone but Luke is able to see, and what the play indicates, is that each of us has individual crosses to bear that are not unlike those on stage. We can tell the characters in the show, with no difficulty at all, what their lives would have needed, but when it comes to our own existences, nothing is quite as simple.