“Frankie and Johnny were sweethearts”, at least that’s the way the song goes. Frankie and Johnny are sweethearts, at least that’s the way the play goes.
Mixed Salad’s Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune is a sweet and funny play that is a deceptively complex, modern-day love story.
Director Sally Putnam has produced a professional production with two characters who delight and ultimately disarm, defying even the most modern-day skeptic to believe in its message of love and connection in a crammed city apartment block.
Waitress Frankie (Theresa Sugars) and cook Johnny (Adam Tuominen) meet in their workplace, go on a date and the play begins as their passions erupt in Frankie’s small city apartment. As the ardor cools Frankie is keen to call an end to the evening, but Johnny has very different ideas.
Tuominen’s energetic Johnny is a tour de force, a young man whose passions are hard to keep up with. Tuominen has skillfully depicted Johnny’s motor mouth, romantic notions, and persistence in the face of opposition. This is a charming performance conveying the depth and breadth of Johnny’s flaws while drawing affection and empathetic laughter for his susceptibility and openness. At the same time the question remains hovering, is this young man deeply passionate and in love or is he simply afraid of being alone?
Sugars, as Frankie, is the perfect foil for Johnny’s exuberance. Sugars’ Frankie is a sweet and yet reticent woman, a voyeur of life. Unlike Johnny, Frankie tends to withdraw, preferring to watch television or neighbouring apartment dwellers rather than become embroiled in personal unions. Her invulnerable persona becomes a challenge for Johnny, a wall just begging to be broken down. Is Frankie really disinterested or is she simply fearful of being hurt?
The first half of the play explores the personas of each character. It is in the second half that the walls start to break down and the connection between two vulnerable human beings is explored. This is a delightful two-hander with just the right ingredients for a good night out and perhaps an insight or two for modern-day audiences.
Mixed Salad Productions
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
by Terrence McNally
Venue: The Studio, Holden Street Theatres, Hindmarsh SA 5007
Dates: 16 - 31 October 2009
Times: Thursdays to Saturdays at 8pm | (Sunset shows: Weds 21 October at 6.30pm, Sun 25 October at 4.00pm and Wednesday 28 October at 6.30pm)