REVIEW: Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally in the Chichester Festival Minerva Theatre

Frankie  & Johnny. Photo: Manuel Harlan.

Frankie & Johnny. Photo: Manuel Harlan.

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You need neither fast-paced action nor complex plots to create great drama.

The most explosive and mesmerising scenes on a stage are generated from the hopes and frailties of ordinary folk struggling to survive their everyday lives.

Frankie and Johnny are two such characters.

In an unremarkable New York apartment, these middle aged and lonely workmates from a local cafe finish up in bed together.

And that energetic and passionate testing of the sofa bed’s upholstery is where this play begins.

Are they soulmates? Is this love? Or is it just another one night staging post in their rudderless lives?

These are the questions that lie at the heart of the ensuing dialogue.

With Dervla Kirwan as Frankie and Neil Stuke as Johnny, this classic 1987 piece of drama could not be in safer hands.

Not that this is in any sense a safe production.

The nudity and the strong language demand the most enormous courage in a theatre famed for its conservative Chichester audience.

However, the Minerva is nothing if it does not take risks.

And this closing production of the Minerva Festival should be remembered best for the enormous empathy and sensitivity that is displays for two people desperate for a love and companionship which continually eludes them.

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