I saw *Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune* on 7/27/19. It’s a play by Terrence McNally from 1987, this is the second Broadway production. The two characters are a woman and man who work as a waitress and cook in a diner. The play starts with the two of them having sex in her apartment, the first time they’ve seen each other outside of work. The rest of the play follows their difficulties in connecting with each other, their individual problems, and their inevitable decision to keep trying.
I really hated it, I thought the play was awful. The first act annoyed me, the second act angered me. The characters are two tired archetypes: the woman who’s been hurt and is unwilling to open herself up to the possibility of love, and the man who’s needy and sensitive and no one understands him! Plus even though the woman asks the man numerous times to leave, he does NOT leave, he just keeps saying that he loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life loving her and looking at her, adoring her. I kept waiting for the woman to say, “You’re creeping me out, you’re putting on your clothes and leaving in the next five minutes or I’m calling the police.” But then the play would only be ten minutes long.
I saw it because I’ve enjoyed other works by McNally (*Master Class,* *Ragtime*), knew nothing about this play and was intrigued. Plus the two actors were people I’ve loved in other projects: Michael Shannon (who knocked me out in *Long Day’s Journey Into Night*) and six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald (who I’ve seen many times, best of all in *Shuffle Along*). In the first act I felt like they were doing a good job with the lousy material, but that wasn’t the case in the second act, I felt like the play was pushing me away to the degree where I wasn’t able to appreciate the performances as a separate entity. McDonald had a quiet short monologue in the second act, and I was impressed by her performance in that moment, but I was appreciating her technique rather than being drawn into her portrayal and the play.