Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Friday, 13 November 2015
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Nov 13, 2015 ***1/2
Written by Terrence
McNally (1987) At fortyfivedownstairs,
until November 29, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Full review also published in Herald Sun online, Nov 13, 2015. It will appear later in print. KH
Richardson & Kate Kendall
two damaged and lonely characters in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune appear
to cram the first six months of their newborn relationship into a single,
fraught night of love and conflict.
Terrence McNally’s 1987 play, Frankie (Kate Kendall), a waitress, and Johnny (Damien
Richardson), a short-order cook at the same New York restaurant, stumble into
bed together only to find that their old, emotional wounds open when they try
to communicate genuinely.
The action takes place over
an uninterrupted night in Frankie’s dingy, Manhattan apartment that is
evocatively and realistically recreated in the dim, cellar-like environment of
fortyfivedownstairs (Design by Jacob Battista).
Director, Colette Mann,
focuses on the complex and conflicted inner worlds of these two dysfunctional
people as they navigate the bumpy ocean of new, mid-life love.
Richardson balances annoying
bluster with blokey charm as the nervy, persistent, garrulous Johnny who,
despite being a divorced ex-con estranged from his kids, remains naively
romantic, although a bit too hasty in his declarations of undying love.
Kendall brings a brittle,
suspicious edge to Frankie whose eagerness for Johnny to put on his clothes and
leave her apartment stems from a dysfunctional, past relationship that left her
fearful and emotionally damaged.
The harder Johnny pushes
her to accept that they are soul mates and should marry and have kids, the
faster Frankie backs away.
Richardson and Kendall effectively
explore the playfulness, drama and conflict in McNally’s snappy dialogue and flawed
Mann maintains a cracking
pace in the fierce, funny and audacious early scenes although some of the shouting
matches are too loud and overwhelming while the sudden emotional shifts are not
The final, sweet and
intimate scenes are the most touching when Frankie and Johnny finally find
their common rhythm in the pale, morning light and settle into an amiable,
Clair de Lune of the title refers to Debussy’s soothing, atmospheric music that
triggers a poignant moment when a late-night radio DJ answers Johnny’s request
for a romantic tune.
is a funny and moving performance by two talented, well-known and engaging