“Next Fall” plays ArtsWest through April 6th

For this review, Seattle Pockets welcomes Guest Blogger, Russell Hathaway.

A Republican senator who has long opposed marriage equality recently changed his stance on the subject very publicly after his son came out.  The story behind the 2010 Tony-nominated play, Next Fall, running through April 6th at ArtsWest, could also have changed had Luke (played by David Elwyn Traylor) been so open with Butch and Arlene (John Wray and Patricia Haines-Ainsworth), his conservative Southern parents.  Instead, when the play opens, the sounds of screeching tires, shattering glass and crunching steel, suggest a very different process of change and a much more challenging outcome.  Now Luke’s partner of four years, Adam (Christopher Zinovitch) must deal with Adam’s parents with the help of friends Holly (Kate Witt) and Brandon (Daniel Stoltenber).  All the characters, from their various perspectives, struggle to be understood, accepted and respected, making for a sometimes anxious, sometimes funny, but consistently smart and thoughtful journey. And a tissue may be needed every now and then.

 The characters are lovingly portrayed and sympathetic.  Even the antagonist parents are relate-able and worthy of a good ol’ Southern ‘Bless your hearts’.  The production is well-staged in the intimate West Seattle ARTSWEST theater space.  And the story is well-written (Geoffrey Nauffts) and directed (Cindy Bradder), to be thoughtful and moving, even if it’s familiar.

Marriage equality may change a story like this as it relates to legal matters and civil rights, but the balance and struggle in relationships for understanding and honesty, love and respect, will continue to be relevant.  This is true for all everyone, whether we’re Adam, Butch, Arlene, Holly, Brandon or Luke.  Make an afternoon or an evening of it in West Seattle’s Alaska Junction and cap it off with Next Fall at ArtsWest.  You’ll be glad you did!

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