Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune"

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note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Larry Stark

"Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune"

by Terrence McNally
Directed by Fran Weinberg

Set & Lighting Design by Jeff Gardiner
Sound Design by Bill Rauworth
Costumes Jen Jezard
Props & Set Dressing by John Murtagh
Stage Manager Rosie Brownell

Frankie.............................Maureen Keiller
Johnnie...............................Doug Marsden
Voice of Radio Announcer...Bill Rauworth

Isn't it odd that you put two perfectly ordinary people on stage and Presto! they become unique. How many times tonight have two people who work at the same place gone on a first date and ended up in bed together? How many times Every night does it happen? So what did Terrence McNally and Fran Weinberg do to make Maureen Keiller and Doug Marsden, playing a short-order cook and a waitress, into such a fascinating pair of people?

A lot of it was writing them as around fifty yet unmarried, overly aware of their faults, him ready at first fling to declare This the first night of their lives together, willing to use the word "love", doggedly refusing to hear anything that sounds like No; and she burned a little too often to relax into Yes. No, they are Not perfectly matched, in any way except their unfulfilled longing not to be alone anymore. And that turns out to be enough. Like I said --- Unique!

How did people act in 1987 at two in the morning, when she's always hungry after sex and he's a cook? Well, Marsden and Keiller did a neat little dance of growing intimacy --- a strange word for what happens After sex, right? --- giving little bits of themselves, and refusing to lie no matter what the lines had them say. Jeff Gardiner gave them the totally functional one-room apartment McNally always demands, Bill Rauworth gave them classical mood-music and a till-dawn d-j goofy enough to answer Johnny's request for "the most beautiful piece of music in the world" with Debussey's 'Clair de Lune' which neither of then can identify!) as that very moon, and then dawn, peeped through the window at two people, still together after showing each other their faults, and their love.

What Weinberg did for these actors was to let them react to one another, alone on that stage, not as though they'd known each other for years, but as though they knew wherever one would go, the other would follow. That way Weinberg and McNally and even the actors themselves disappeared, and two people named Frankie and Johnny fell in love, right before our eyes, for the very first time.


"Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" (5 - 21 April)
Massachussetts Bay Community College, Route 9, WELLESLEY, MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide