Writer E. M. Forster uses the epigraph, “Only Connect,” in his novel Howard’s End. Playwright Terrence McNally reiterates this idea in his thoughtful and emotional Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, with would-be lovers Frankie and Johnny attempting to cement a relationship. Sal Romeo and Friends and Artists’ production of this play features moving work by actors bravely laying bare their characters’ lives.
Playing off the names from a vintage song, McNally crafts a story of two hurting people looking for refuge and love. Scared and self-conscious Frankie (Jessica Blair), a waitress at a local restaurant, reciprocates the attraction of the spontaneous, irrepressible Johnny (Bert Rotundo), the diner’s cook. Can both characters confront their demons and take the risk of love after spending an intense evening together?
Director Franc Ross crafts an intimate, expressive production that boldly confronts human frailty and need. The presentation realistically captures the messiness of life, the push/pull dynamics of a romantic relationship. Production work also enhances proceedings.
Ross draws excellent work from his cast, both of whom emotionally reveal all vulnerabilities. Blair’s nervous, unsure Frankie hides behind brusqueness to conceal the hurting woman within. Rotundo brings a likable warmth to the energetic, passionate Johnny. The couple possesses fine chemistry, humor, and timing, playing off each other well.
This production is strictly for adults only however, containing explicit nudity, language, and situations.
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune powerfully examines what it means to vulnerably risk expressing romantic love.
Sal Romeo and Friends and Artists presents Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m. through March 3 at the Sidewalk Studio Theatre located at 4150 Riverside Dr. in Toluca Lake. Tickets cost $10. For reservations, call (818) 558-5702, or visit brownpapertickets.com/event/313073 or facebook.com/BLTdown.