Bittersweet love story at 2nd Story
Under the careful direction of Director Mark Peckham, Emily Lewis and Chris Perrotti have perfectly captured the essence of their characters and made them both real.by Tim Forsberg, Cranston Herald
“Frankie and Johnny were lovers…” the old familiar song begins.
In Terrence McNally’s bittersweet play, “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” they are co-workers. He’s a cook and she’s a waitress.
The two-act, hour and 45-minute play opens with them having sex in her small apartment. After they get dressed (There is some very discreet, dimly lit nudity), Frankie wants Johnny to leave, but he has other ideas.
“Falling in Love with Love” was another song that this play brought to mind, as Johnny was convinced that he had found his true love, while Frankie was put off by his verbally aggressive approach.
“Disparity” is the word that best describes these two lonely people who are both looking for something more in their middle-aged life that so far has produced nothing but despair and failure.
Johnny won’t, or can’t, stop talking. He scares Frankie with his frankness. The two slowly find things in common, but they are meaningless little tidbits that really aren’t that important in the scheme of things.
The common thread is the hope for something better in their lives. Johnny sees Frankie as the answer to his dreams, scaring the poor woman to death.
The first act ends in the moonlit apartment, with the two ending up where they started, under the sheets.
The play could almost have ended there, but McNally had more to say as the sun came up in the second act, and the relationship got more involved and complicated.
We learned that the second time around, Johnny had experienced a “temporary hiatus” in his love-making, filling him with guilt and anger, as he searches for whose fault it was as he so desperately tried to connect.
While there are some funny moments in the play, many of them are peppered with poignancy, as the two come to a resolution in their relationship.
“Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune” is a metaphor of the loneliness and disconnections that we all face at some time in our lives. McNally is a talented writer who weaves them into his play, at times with subtlety and at times by hitting you over the head with the obvious.
The play requires two actors who can play off each other with perfect timing, both physically and verbally. Under the careful direction of Director Mark Peckham, Emily Lewis and Chris Perrotti have perfectly captured the essence of their characters and made them both real and sympathetic.
A thumb’s up also for scenic and lighting designer Max Ponticelli for a great set that is enhanced by the lighting and full moon.