Theatre Review: Interview With Kelly McGillis (Bournemouth Diaries)

Opening Night of “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” with Kelly McGillis and Rolf Saxon

“1987, New York City. Frankie’s one room apartment in a walk-up tenement in the west 50’s. It is the early hours of a Sunday morning in March,” as last night’s premiere of Terrence McNally’s provocative play begins at the Lighthouse Theatre.
Based on 1987 Off-Broadway hit, the play captures the gloomy realism of McNally’s dark romantic comedy about Frankie (Kelly McGillis) and Johnny (Rolf Saxon), two lonely middle aged people whose lives have passed them by without the fulfilment dreamt of in their youth.

Frankie is a waitress in an American “greasy spoon” diner; Johnny is a recently hired short order cook. It is the night of their first date and the lights go up as we find them groaning through an orgasm.

Johnny believes that he has found his soul mate in Frankie, but she, however, is far more cautious and certain that sex is all they could give each other, nothing more. The night unravels their longings and fears as they take vigilant steps towards the possible start of a new relationship, beginning with the writer’s optimistic ending – intimate domestic activity of brushing their teeth.


KellyMcGillisInterview by Katarina Petrovic

McGillis’ and Saxon’s only 3 weeks rehearsed performance remains shadowed by the popular Garry Marshall’s 1991 film “Frankie and Johnny” (starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer) as the stage reveals their acting weaknesses unprotected by the safety of camera lens.

The slightly excessive shouting on McGillis behalf was distracting and could only be interpreted as her attempt at creating the exasperated character of deeply hurt Frankie, much wounded by other men in her past. However, apart from suggesting a neglected voice technique, this loud speaking did not portray a tough waitress whose armouring mask actually hides her generosity, and McGillis’ interpretation remained only two dimensional.

Despite the fine direction of Michael Lunney, and well developed situations, recognisable and metamorphic in the drawing writing of Mr McNally, the two actors did not yet reach the spontaneity and conviction needed to override the moments where the creation of their roles is still rigid, relying on the over potentiating of the existing humour of the play.

But, as Johnny quoted Shakespeare, “If music be the food of love, then play on!” as tonight could have been the misfortune of the first performance.


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