Thanks to Migs’ blog post, I learned that Repertory Philippines is staging an interesting play named Next Fall at OnStage in Greenbelt 1. The play, which runs until February 5, is about these two gay men living in New York City who are in a 5-year relationship. What’s interesting about the plot is that the two men have differing opinions on religion: Luke is a young devout Christian who prays after sex and whose family doesn’t know that he is gay, while Adam is a middle-aged atheist who struggles with various mid-life problems. As expected, these two people’s differing outlooks in life is cause for one of the play’s main tensions.
I’m admittedly not a theater-going person not because I don’t like them but because watching plays is an expensive pastime. But if I were presented with the occasional but really interesting play, I’d consider seeing it. And Next Fall definitely fits the bill. It’s not often that a play is staged locally that tackles gay themes and is not an all-out comedy like Zsazsa Zaturnnah or Care Divas. So as soon as I read Migs’ article, I resolved to go and see it dragging a friend along as well. (The fact that Bart Guingona portrays one half of the gay couple was also instrumental in my decision. Hehehe.)
So how was it? While my friend and I agreed that the ending seemed a bit too abrupt, I thought that the play as a whole is well worth watching. I was particularly impressed by the set and technical details—who knew that a simple hospital waiting room table could also function as a living room coffee table, a park bench, and a prayer room pew? I also really liked the roll-on-roll-off apartment foyer.
As for the acting, it was superb! The small cast of 6 were all very good and their portrayals made it really easy to relate and empathize with their characters. Michael Faustmann, who plays Luke’s homophobic father Butch, was especially excellent.
I also loved the script and dialogue. Many of the lines were very witty and it all felt very natural. A few scenes also had me laughing like the one funny-because-it’s-awkward moment when Butch meets Adam for the first time.
As for the play’s story and themes, it was all quite relatable. I’m a practicing Catholic and just like Migs and CC (who wrote a favorable review of the play), I’ve also gone through the struggles of trying to reconcile what I know and experienced in my homosexual side with my Catholic upbringing. While I won’t discuss my personal stance regarding religion (maybe a topic for a future blog post?), I will just have to say that I consider myself more spiritual rather than religious.
That said, I felt that the religion aspect was a weak point of the play, at least with respect to the generally Catholic Filipino audience. The Christianity portrayed in Next Fall was decidedly of the American Protestant flavor making it hard for Filipino Catholics to comprehend. Among the concepts mentioned were the Rapture (something unknown to many Catholics) and sola fide (“by faith alone”) where to be saved you just have to believe in Jesus’ saving power instead of the faith-together-with-good-works that Catholics espouse. The latter concept was the reason why Luke justified his “sinful” gay lifestyle when Adam questioned him about it.
(Apologies for the religion tangent. )
Going back to the play, I highly recommend that you watch it if you can. While it’s no Phantom of the Opera, it is quite fun to watch yet tackles the serious stuff. It’s definitely time better spent than watching yet another crappy local gay indie film.