Review: Next Fall by CATCO at the Riffe Center

Jay Weitz, Columbus Alive

Love and religion can defy rational explanation. Their point of conflict is the stuff of human drama. CATCO's production of "Next Fall," directed by Jimmy Bohr, is playwright Geoffrey Nauffts' soapy take on that particular conflict.

Luke (Cole Simon) is the gay cater waiter who also happens to be a committed Christian. He and Adam (Jon Osbeck), an equally committed nonbeliever and hypochondriac, meet cute and commit to each other in spite of their spiritual differences. Adam is particularly bothered by Luke's postcoital ritual of praying for forgiveness.

As fate would have it, Luke is badly injured in a traffic accident, bringing together in the hospital waiting room several of the important people in his life. These include his divorced parents, to whom he has never come out. His mother, Arlene (Anne Diehl), is a stereotypical woman from the Deep South and a motor mouth who long ago figured out and accepted her son's secret in spite of her faith. Luke's father, Butch (Ralph E. Scott), adheres to his faith's condemnation of homosexuality and refuses to acknowledge his son's orientation.

Nauffts offers no great insights into Luke's presumed internal struggle, his parents' opposite reactions from a shared religious perspective or Adam's conflict about loving someone who regards their love as a sin.

Osbeck wears Adam's neuroses comfortably and Scott nails Butch's bluster, but Simon rarely gives any glimpse into Luke's inner turmoil. The audience is no closer to fathoming the human head or heart.

Riffe Center's Studio Two Theatre

Through April 1

77 S. High St., Downtown