By Geoffrey Nauffts
Directed by Eric Zivot
Starring Christopher McIntyre, Thomas Ouellette, Stephan Jones
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL
I suppose we’re ready for a show about a closeted fundamentalist and his inappropriately older atheist candle-selling boyfriend, but the first act is a solid lecture no matter where you stand on religion or sex. Luke (McIntyre) is the twink with a wink, Adam (Ouellette) is the not-quite-creepy middle aged guy, and they seem to hit it off pretty well even if they disagree about saying grace over Subway or praying for forgiveness after sex. Adam is not Luke’s first man but the one that he seems best able to resolve his physical and theological tensions. Before Adam he hung with Brandon (Stephen Lima) – while not exactly orthodox, he keeps a yarmulke in his breast pocket and studies the New Testament, presumably for loop holes. Just as Judaism struggled briefly to integrate the Christian interpretation of their religion into their lives, “Next Fall” attempts to integrate homosexuality with modern Televangelist driven theology. It’s a stretch, but maybe dedicated people like Adam and Luke can find the True Path.
All the interesting action occurs between Luke and Adam and everyone else seems set up as a straw man to kick over. Butch (Jones) and Arlene (Peg O’Keefe) are the parents in denial – it’s clear what’s going on between Luke and Adam, but both have sworn to look the other way. Limas’ Brandon seems especially underutilized – he was willing lover but refused to publically violate community standards he flaunted privately. Holly (Elizabeth Dean) held the role of straight woman with gay male friends – supportive and sympathetic, she’s the mother figure who accepts all and judges nothing, something Luke’s real parents can’t handle.
While the first act was a hard pull, McIntyre and Ouellette’s joy and enthusiasm made up for a lot of brutal dialog. The second act was better, there was a great pay off between Jones an Ouellette that nearly justified all the hard work both the cast and the audience invested in this private drama. There are some interesting concepts here; mostly involving when and how we can reinterpret traditional Christian morality: On one hand, morality is a fixed point and what was verboten in 33 A.D. should be equally as verboten in 2033 A.D. On the other one can interpret details in a more fluid context – once rock and roll was the devils music, and now we have Christian heavy metal bands. He we push and poke at these boundaries, and it’s really not clear a mutually acceptable solution set exists, but the debate can tear people’s lives apart without coming to a conclusion.
For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com