Teri Brown and Charles Peters in "Frankie and Johnny at the Clair de Lune." Photo courtesy of OnStage Playhouse
For anyone who’s ever stayed up all night in the company of someone very special there’s Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. McNally’s genuine and intimate 1987 play tells the story of a first date between a short-order cook named Johnny and a waitress named Frankie that lasts until dawn, during which time the two characters figuratively and literally bare themselves to each other, and loneliness becomes new love.
At OnStage Playhouse the company’s artistic director, Teri Brown, is profoundly moving as Frankie, who wrapped up though she is in the hot sex isn’t sure about the deeper feelings coming from Johnny (Charles Peters, superb) or from inside herself. There isn’t a moment during Frankie and Johnny’s two engrossing hours that rings false, a testament to not only McNally’s words but to the performers and to the director of this production, Jennifer Peters (Charles’ wife). It’s easy to believe that the little Chula Vista stage is a New York studio apartment, that the unseen neighbors in the next building are in abusive or dead marriages, and that, in a nod to hope, Frankie and Johnny have found their soulmates.
(Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 2/20/19.)
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David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.