Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally, New Repertory Theatre, 11/28/10-12/19/10. Nudity and Mature Themes. http://newrep.org/frankie_johnny.php
Reviewed by Becca Kidwell
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is a difficult play to stage. The tight, witty, intelligent romance by Terrence McNally requires a comparable production that will not fall flat; New Repertory Theatre’s current production rises to the challenge.
A two-person play needs two strong actors. Anne Gottlieb and Robert Pemberton deliver beyond expectations. Not only are they strong individual actors, but they also thrive as a couple. While Terrence McNally has said that the play is a “romantic fairytale”, the play would not hold an audience’s attention if it was not grounded in genuine, believable characters. As Robert Pemberton speaks every line, his eyes reveal the sincerity of his heart. Over the span of one night, Johnny’s profession of love could seem ludicrous, even threatening—except for the fact that this Johnny is truly sincere and truly loves Frankie. Ann Gottlieb walks the delicate line between being fragile and resilient. If she does not display strength, the character of Johnny would crush her; at the same time, the character of Frankie has been hurt and the vulnerability still has to be there to create the tension. As Frankie, Gottlieb has found this balance so that the character can hold her own against Johnny, but still fear the pain of heartbreak. Gottlieb and Pemberton completely draw the audience in to Frankie and Johnny’s struggle where one can’t help but fight with them for the connection to something that can last. They ARE Frankie and Johnny—trying to be more than just a couple of “bodies bumping around in the night”. Continue reading