For most (educated) people, hate crime and homophobia are things that we only hear about in the news and see on the daily paper. We have gay friends but we don't really see anything wrong with them. We go to church every Sunday and shrug off the church's stand on the matter, the way we pray and listen to preaching about Adam and Eve when we are absolutely convinced that we evolved off some primate. We see these as differences in opinion maybe and we neglect to see how a bigoted view, especially from an institution like the church, actually spawns into the heinous acts that we only read about in the morning paper.
Repertory Philippines gives us a glimpse of this reality in Next Fall, a bittersweet love story so familiar, we could have been looking at our friends or people in our very own circle. It tells the story of an aspiring 25-year old actor - Luke who happens to be a devout Catholic and his love affair with Adam, a neurotic, underachieving atheist who sells candles for a living. The pairing couldn't be more off but this is as intended as we are about to see two people making a relationship work beyond their differences.
The play flashes back to trace the start of their relationship, from the sweetest moments of budding love to the challenges posed by their differences in beliefs. Luke has yet to reveal his sexual orientation to his homophobic father and feels the need to pray after sex. Adam is irked by the fact that he has to conceal who he is for people that do not understand their lifestyle and is jealous of Luke's devotion to God.
The triumph of the show is in the fact that it succeeded in showcasing humans as humans, not people at their best or at their worst, but people as we see them everyday. We see them deal with differences and open themselves up to opposing points of view to honor the needs of a loved one. This may not always be easy especially when logic dictates otherwise, "Only 1/3 of the world's population is Catholic. Does that mean that the rest of us will go to hell?"
When the play goes full circle and shows us the last few moments of the couple together before Luke meets an accident, we see ourselves dealing and/or walking away from our own day to day problems. We feel the characters' loss and regret, and whichever side we are on the debate on religion, they manage to make us share their pain.
Next Fall is Repertory's first offering for 2012 and I think it would also be their most memorable, if not the most important. Catch it on its closing weekend, Feb 3-5 at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1, Makati. For tickets call 891-9999 or 571-6926.