Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Next Fall" to Close on the 4th of July

A great American play is about to close after only 132 performances. It is a story about our identities as Americans - sexually, religiously, interpersonally - and like any really good American play, it makes us laugh and cry, often at the same time. It is about our need to love and our need to judge, about our penchant for unconscious cruelty and our compulsion to reach out to others for help and for meaning. And it reminds us that it is never too late to forgive or to learn. "Next Fall" is about all these things and more.

I refuse to accept that this simple, beautiful play did not attract large audiences because of a no-name cast, which is the reason given by most of the pundits. Somehow, I think it is something more fundamental than that. People have forgotten what the theater does at its best. It serves as a mirror of ourselves and who we are striving to become. "Next Fall" provides us with such a mirror and does so in such gentle and heartfelt ways that it is easy to lose sight of how profound its lessons really are.

I don't know. Most likely, I overrate this play. It is perhaps too transparent, too lucid, too straightforward, too sentimental to be truly great. But I love it nonetheless and may have to see it one more time before it finally closes.

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