NBC’s popular television show “Will and Grace” has remained close to our hearts — but is it intriguing because homosexual relationships are underrepresented in the media, or is it something else? Just as this show brought homosexuality to the forefront, the play “Next Fall” also grapples with a homosexual relationship and how it is just like any partnership between two people.
Tomorrow, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Friday at 11 p.m.
Studio One, Walgreen Drama Center
The student organization Basement Arts is presenting the dynamic play “Next Fall,” which concentrates on two men in a relationship: One is a devout Christian, the other an atheist. The play revolves around the struggles between sex and religion, but more universally, the play emphasizes the conflict that surrounds any relationship.
After a devastating accident, Luke is placed in the hospital in critical condition. The play shifts from the hospital setting to flashbacks of Luke and Adam over the course of their five-year relationship. Luke comes from a family of born-again Christians and even though he wants to inform his parents of his sexuality, he feels ashamed. This creates a constant discord between him and Adam.
In order to distinguish between the switching time sequences, the set is designed to perform a 180-degree flip, where the hospital, painted in a dull, cold gray, miraculously turns into a lively yellow-colored apartment. This bright color matches the change in atmosphere, as well as emotion and time. The costumes also aid in establishing a distinct separation between the periods in the play. For instance, Holly, a friend of Luke and Adam, is an optimistic and vivacious individual, so she’s dressed in a bright yellow.
School of Music, Theatre & Dance junior, Jon Manganello, the show’s director, explained how “Next Fall” is a major advancement in theater regarding homosexuality. While other plays dealt with homosexual relationships or themes focusing on hate crimes, victimhood, or AIDS, “Next Fall” speaks of characters who face issues that all humans face, highlighting how homosexual couples deal with many of the same problems as other couples.
Manganello further emphasized how the play is not overwhelmed with sorrow, even though Luke gets in a devastating accident.
“The attitude we had during this process is to show how the play is very much a tragedy, but it is equally, if not more, a comedy,” Manganello said. “These characters bring light to really terrible circumstances, and my job as a director is to find the moments of happiness so that the tragic moments really stick out and shine.”
Many of the comedic elements are played out in the flashback scenes through the witty and highly expressive speech of the characters.
One of the most poignant elements of the production concerns the hospital’s newly implemented rule, allowing only family members into the hospital rooms. As Luke’s partner, Adam has no legal connection and cannot visit him at the hospital. However, Luke’s parents, who have practically disowned their son, can walk in freely. This brings up the issue of gay marriage and how it affects those involved.
“There are a lot of people out there who don’t understand why gay people are fighting for the word ‘marriage,’” Manganello said. “But in specific instances like this — where there’s that legal bind that separates partners from husbands — there is something very important about the word and idea of marriage that you cannot get with just a partnership or a relationship.”