If you’re a GLBT person interested in having relationships work with people different than you, then make a beeline to the Jungle Theater, where playwright Geoffrey Naufft’s Next Fall—a Broadway hit in 2009—now enjoys its first area production. The Broadway staging, presented by Sir Elton John and his life partner, David Furnish, was Tony-nominated for Best Play.
Next Fall explores the gay love story of Luke (Neal Skoy), a fundamentalist Christian, and Adam (Garry Geikken), an atheist. Luke never has come out to his family. So, when fate brings his relatives into the picture, a lot that was hidden for his gay relationship’s five-year duration surfaces.
Much has been said of Next Fall’s famous breakfast conversation scene.
Director Joel Sass explains, “After their first romantic night the couple enjoys together, it’s, like, oh, God! It’s the most wonderful honeymoon! But then, they have this little conversation where Adam questions Luke: ‘Well, if you’re gay and a Christian, how do you reconcile that?’
“And that leads to a discussion about atonement and belief where Adam poses a very difficult question to Luke, who is very steadfast in his Christian ideology: ‘If all you’ve got to do if you’ve sinned is ask for forgiveness, and then you’ll go to heaven, then what does it mean if, say, Matthew Shepard is killed before he has ‘atoned,’ but his murderers do [‘atone,’ and go to heaven)? Does that mean Matthew Shepard is burning in hell? And his murderers have gone to heaven?’”
Sass continues, “And by the strict letter of Luke’s theology, that answer has to be ‘yes.’ Yet, he’s not happy with what his faith would have him say. And it’s written so that it’s brought up in such a way that the audience is involved in that question, too.”
Skoy feels that Luke’s Christianity “is the absolute center of his being—that and his homosexuality. Luke has ‘accepted Christ,’ and believes that his faithfulness is enough to deliver him from evil. He doesn’t go around quoting scriptures, but he truly believes. But under his whole perspective is a bit of guilt. He sees being gay as a sin, but he doesn’t run from the fact that he is gay. I found that to be admirable.”
Geikken observes, “Adam is a worrier, and more than a little neurotic. And the issue is certainly not tidily resolved in the play, which is very much as it should be. One of the great things about this script is its ‘equal time empathy.’ I think whatever one’s personal beliefs, they will be surprised at the lack of heroes and villains with respect to the issues raised.”
Apr. 8-May 22
2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.