The sleeper hit of ‘Next Fall’

McGarrahan, left, and Roach share a tender moment in “Next Fall.”

“Next Fall” could easily get lost in its own clichés. Plays about gay urban couples grappling with relationship issues seem to be all the rage lately. Toss in caustic wit, a supportive female friend and parents who don’t know that their son is gay and you’ve got yet another story.

What makes the SpeakEasy Stage Company’s current production work is not the writing of playwright Geoffrey Nauffts, but the captivating storytelling of director Scott Edmiston.

Initially, the play’s scattered timelines feel a bit confusing as the plot winds its way into predictable territory. But as the story unfolds, Edmiston draws you in with smooth, seamless transitions that make it feel like a riveting drama you hope will never end.

Dan Roach is so convincing as Luke that you can easily become envious of his unwavering faith while questioning the inadequacies of your own. Much of his appeal comes from the ease Luke exudes as a direct result of his Christian beliefs.

The problem: His partner Adam is an older, nebbishy hypochondriac with all the requisite baggage and none of the faith. Will McGarrahan nicely captures all the quirks and the unlikely duo share a chemistry that actually works.

Amelia Broome is superb as Luke’s fast talking, formerly fast-living mother Arlene. Deb Martin and Kevin Kaine deliver solid performances as Holly and Brandon, respectively, but it’s Robert Walsh who delivers the most gut-wrenching performance of all.

Whether Luke’s devout Christian dad is unwittingly spewing venomous lines or dropping to his knees in complete, utter surrender, Walsh will leave you thinking long after the curtain has come down.


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