Southwark Playhouse is known for taking a little bit of a risk in its shows, and Next Fall starts with a bang…quite literally. The show follows the relationship of Adam (Charlie Condou) and Luke (Martin Delaney), two complete opposites as they deal with love, life and religion over the course of a five-year relationship, ending in an event that shakes their world.
Next Fall was a huge off-Broadway hit when it premiered in 2010, and even had Elton John and David Furnish as producers. Religion and sexuality is a hot topic and Next Fall tackles it head on. Does the play live up to its hype? Yes and no.
The use of simplistic set really does add sparkle to the show. With the script, the set and the actors’ laid back approach to their characters, it feels like you are peaking in on this world rather than watching a show. The show heavily relies on its characters, and the six strong cast really play well off each other. The biggest surprise of the show comes in the form of Martin Delaney. If, like myself, you are from the Nickelodeon era, you will remember him from Renford Rejects, but in Next Fall he comes across the most genuine and likeable character. His scenes with Condou are personal highlights of the show; they light up the stage as a couple. Without this unity between the two of them the show definitely would not have worked as well as it did, and before you leave you will be begging for many more scenes with Luke and Adam!
The show does come with its share of problems, though. The first is the fact that the show is set in Manhattan, so our predominately British cast fall in and out of their accents quite regularly. I mention this because it does feel like the show would not have lost much without the setting (except for the “fall” element in the title of course). The other problematic part of the play is the jokes; the stereotypical American style jokes push the story into daytime soap opera territory at times, which could put the British audience into awkward mode themselves. This would definitely be down to the translation of audiences, what works over there does not necessarily go down a treat here.
Bad American accents aside, this well-thought-out show deals with prominent issues without spoon-feeding the audience. The juxtaposition of dealing with differences and coping with loss will make even the coldest-hearted person leave with a lump in their throat. If you love a drama, make sure Next Fall is on your list.
Next Fall is playing at Southwark Playhouse until 25 October. For more information and tickets, see the Southwark Playhouse website. Photo: Robert Workman.