FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE by Terrence McNally, directed by Rod Ceballos, with Zorana Kydd and Peter Van Wart. Presented by Birdland Theatre at the Jane Mallett Theatre (27 Front East). Runs to September 26, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $40-$55. 416-366-7723. Rating: NN
In the course of one night, Frankie And Johnny In The Clair De Lune travels from a spirited fuck to the possibility of tender love.
Terrence McNally 's play is one of several from the 70s and 80s that bring together a mismatched pair and let them battle their own demons as well as each other. Here it's short-order cook Johnny ( Peter Van Wart ) and waitress Frankie ( Zorana Kydd ), who work in the same New York diner. He's determined to make this more than a one-night stand; she's equally firm in calling for post-coital quits.
Johnny tries to woo Frankie, and Van Wart works hard both as character and actor to connect with his partner and give life to this relationship. His accent may wander, but for two acts this Johnny resolutely tries to bond rather than just bump bodies with the woman he's convinced is his partner.
But this is a two-hander, and Kydd gives her partner very little for his efforts. Her unnuanced Frankie fails to suggest the secrets she's holding onto or to deliver any kind of payoff when she reveals them. No wonder the intended dramatic climax has neither spark nor satisfying resolution. The blame for that should be shared by the performer and director Rod Ceballos .