Next (play)

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Written byTerrence McNally
Date premieredJuly 16, 1967
Place premieredWhite Barn Theatre, Westport, Connecticut
Original languageEnglish

Next is a one-act play by Terrence McNally. The play opened Off-Broadway in 1969.


At the comedy's center are Marion Cheever, a middle-aged, overweight, debt-ridden, divorced father of two who mistakenly has been called by the draft, and Sergeant Thech, a no-nonsense female examining officer. A battle-of-wits is waged between the "sad sack" determined to avoid military service and the career officer just as determined to sign him up.[1]

Starting out as an amusing incident, Cheever ends up showing "hatred and contempt" for his country.[2]

Production history[edit]

The original version of Next premiered at the White Barn Theatre, Westport, Connecticut on July 16, 1967.[3] The play was then produced on television Channel 13 in New York City in March 1968. The role of Marion Cheever was played by James Coco.[2][4]

Paired with Elaine May's Adaptation,[5] Next opened Off-Broadway at the Greenwich Mews Theatre on February 10, 1969, [6] where it ran for 707 performances. James Coco and Elaine Shore were directed by May.[7] [8] Elaine May won the 1969 Outer Critics Circle Award, Best Director.[9]

Critical response[edit]

Clive Barnes, reviewing for the New York Times, wrote that the two plays "are just plain marvelous-funny, provocative and, in their way, touching". Of Coco's victim, "This is gorgeous acting, rich, stylish, impeccable."[6]

Peter Wolfe (professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis) wrote of the play : "...the line between victim and tormentor blurs...part of the play's merit stems from both the ambiguity of McNally's attitude towards his people and his ironical treatment of them."[10]

Further reading[edit]

  • Terrence McNally : 15 short plays, Terrence McNally, Smith and Kraus, Lyme, NH, c1994, ISBN 1-880399-34-2


  1. ^ " 'Next' ", accessed April 26, 2014
  2. ^ a b Gent, George. "T.V: Chilling View of War: Terrence McNally's 'Apple Pie' Offers Three Original Dramatic Vignettes", The New York Times, March 15, 1968, p. 79
  3. ^ Terrence McNally (1969). Apple Pie: Three One Act Plays. Dramatists Play Service Inc. pp. 16–. ISBN 978-0-8222-0061-1.
  4. ^ McNally, Terrence. " 'Next' Original Version'" Apple Pie: Three One Act Plays, Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1969, ISBN 0822200619, p. 16
  5. ^ The New Boston Theatre Season, The Harvard Crimson, September 22, 1969
  6. ^ a b Barnes, Clive. "Theater. Off Broadway Brings a Happy Double Bill: Elaine May Makes Life a TV Party Game McNally Tells Story of Improbable Draftee", The New York Times, February 11, 1969 , p. 27
  7. ^ Guernsey, Otis L. "1968-1968" Curtain Times: The New York Theatre, 1965-1987, Hal Leonard Corporation, 1987, ISBN 0936839244, p. 137
  8. ^ "Adaption/Next at Greenwich Mews Theatre", accessed August 21, 2015
  9. ^ "Awards, 1969" Outer Critics Circle (, accessed April 26, 2014
  10. ^ Wolfe, Peter. "Two", The Theater of Terrence McNally: A Critical Study, McFarland, 2013, ISBN 0786474955, p. 46

External links[edit]