Next Fall at the Geffen Playhouse

There are rarely times when I'm genuinely speechless. The cursor blinks on the screen, and, I'll be honest, I have no idea what to say. Anne Bogart says in her book, A Director Prepares, that art should stop you in your tracks, and that's what she looks for in future projects: plays, ideas, themes, that stop her in her tracks.

From our seats in the Geffen Playhouse to our front door, my friend Annie and I didn't speak a word to each other - two people who never shut up, not speaking a word. Geoffrey Nauffts's Next Fall, now playing at the Geffen Playhouse, had shut us both up and had done just what Anne Bogart talks about. My mind is still reeling and my hands are still shaking from the production, and I'm writing this column nearly an hour after the curtain call. That's probably why in the first two paragraphs I haven't been able to say anything of substance.

Next Fall chronicles the relationship between Adam and Luke, a teacher and a struggling actor respectively. The play begins in a Jewish hospital (that's actually an important point) where Luke is in a coma from an unknown incident that happened while Adam was away at a reunion. Once that situation is established, we rewind six years to the night that Adam and Luke met. We watch the development of their relationship: moving in together, the first fight, the reconciliation, the insecurities, and the debates. Luke is a Christian republican who believes anyone who does not accept Christ as their personal Lord and savior is going to Hell come the rapture; Adam is an obnoxious agnostic who can't understand why Luke has not come out to his parents. Immediately, we see the incredible conflict between the two and can't help but be drawn in to Nauffts's irresistible narrative and utterly spellbinding story.

This semester, I shifted my focus from acting to directing, causing sort of an artistic career crisis. I have one and a half years left in school and have no idea what to focus on in terms of my artistic pursuits. All my faculty advisors have offered different opinions, and I'm no closer to figuring anything out. After experiencing Next Fall, I realize that it doesn't really matter what I pursue in terms of artistic persuasion as long as I'm doing something that I would regret not doing. As an artist, I need to work on pieces that speak to me. Something that excites me, terrifies me, paralyzes me. If nothing I'm offered gives me the artistic satisfaction that I'm looking for, I have the ability to create my own opportunities and do those pieces that give me the visceral thrill I'm looking for as an actor or a director. I know this doesn't really make sense and my readers might be thinking, "Well this just sounds like a mid-college crisis," but this play really did offer me a crystallizing vision of my future. I don't need to wait for people to offer me opportunities for something that may or may not light a fire in the pit of my stomach. If there's a story I need to tell, I'll make it happen.

Go see this play. Please.

Zach's Tips: • The Geffen Playhouse offers rush tickets available at the box office 30 minutes prior to curtain time. • Parking is very convenient, right next door to the theater. • Westwood has a ton of wonderful restaurants, but eat before the show because you're not going to have the energy to eat after.