Next Fall: Round House Theatre Stages the Recent Broadway Hit
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The last date listed for Next Fall was Sunday February 26, 2012 / 3:00pm.
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A Timely Meditation on Sexual Identity, Love & Loss
Reviewed by Victoria D.
As the country heatedly debates the civil liberties of the GLBT community, Round House Theatre offers a timely meditation on the complexities of sexual identity, love and loss in the play, "Next Fall." In it, a group of friends and family confer in a hospital waiting room as Luke, a (sometimes) closeted gay actor, remains unconscious after a tragic accident. As his life hangs in the balance, each of Luke’s loved ones struggles to boost morale and temper emotional jabs as the going gets not only tough, but downright brutal.
Though a play largely about confronting one’s skeletons in the midst of crisis, "Next Fall" is mostly blithe and upbeat, the characters self-effacing and refreshingly flawed. Tom Story effortlessly juggles a constantly fluctuating range of emotions as the lead character, Adam, a forty-something hypochondriac whose romance with Luke challenges his worldview. Likewise Kathryn Keller is memorable as Luke’s batty, but well-intentioned mother Arlene, whose social faux pas and zany stories serve as comic relief. Dawn Ursula also delivers a beautifully grounded performance as Holly, loyal friend and the play’s consistent voice of reason. Unfortunately actor Alexander Strain’s stoic portrayal of Luke’s once close now distant friend, Brandon seems out of place amongst an ensemble of colorful characters with much more strongly developed backstories.
Most unforgettable, however, is the youthful and sensitive portrayal of Luke (told in flashback) by Chris Dinolfo particularly when juxtaposed against Kevin Cutts’ intense and equally impressive portrayal of Butch as Luke’s mannish and unyielding father. Despite the similar Christian values of their characters, Dinolfo expertly depitcts Luke’s devotion to his religion with naivety and benevolence while Cutts portrays Butch as a man much more dogmatically bound to his faith. The end result is a tense, heartbreaking and deeply relatable struggle between father and son. Equally convincing is the chemistry between Dinolfo and Story, who are not only lovers in the play, but who are a couple off-stage as well.
Also notable is director Mark Ramont’s masterful balance of the play’s non-linear structure. Set designer, Daniel Conway’s rotating set certainly helps, making clear the numerable transitions between scenes set in the past and present. Likewise Daniel Maclean Wagner’s intuitive lighting design and Matthew Nielson’s sound composition are together a successful shadowy and emotive concoction – moody without becoming melodramatic.
A play with but a miniscule flaw, "Next Fall" is full of enough familiar humor to make it worth the tear or two audiences will inevitably shed by the story's touching end.
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The first act was weak, with mainly just exposition and lots of jokes. The second act was much stronger. So many strands in the play were left undone. What was the purpose of having the character Brandon in the play? What happened after the...continued
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The quality of acting is superb! The play brings home the need to talk about important issues with loved ones while you can. The perfect moment never comes... you have to create it. Very thought provoking script. Staging was interesting with 2...continued
The performance is recommended for audiences ages 15 years old and older.
About the Ticket Supplier: Round House Theatre
Round House is one of the leading professional theaters in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, producing a six-show season of modern classics, new plays and musicals for more than 40,000 patrons each year at our 400-seat theater in Bethesda. Round House has been nominated for 146 Helen Hayes Awards (including six in 2015) and has won 27 (including three in 2014). Its productions have won “Outstanding Resident Play” four times.
Round House’s educational programs serve more than 2,500 students of all ages at its six-classroom Education Center in Silver Spring and in schools throughout Montgomery County. Its many innovative education programs encompass Full Day Programs for Youth, including Summer Programs for K – 12; a Teen Performance Company, with classes and events for teens throughout the year culminating in The Sarah Metzger Memorial Play, the only play produced by a regional theater that is directed, acted and designed by high school students; School Outreach, including Intersections, Student Matinees, and Play It Forward, a program that allows Montgomery County high school students to attend Round House shows for free; and Classes for Adults & Youth.
Round House is a member of LORT (League of Resident Theatres) and LOWT (League of Washington Theatres). The theatre is a 501©3 not-for-profit organization with major support from Montgomery County, the Maryland State Arts Council (an agency funded by the State of Maryland and the National Endowment for the Arts), and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.