Friday, May 25, 2018

Frankie and Johnny -Review- Northern Stage

Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune 
Northern Stage 
Thursday 24 May 2018

The flashing of lights, the stage veiled with net curtain so only shadows could be seen and the sound of loud lovemaking with jazz playing in the background certainly caught my attention from the beginning of this play.

The stage was set in the middle with the audience sat either side creating an intimate atmosphere as well as an interesting view.

Frankie and Johnny, originally an off Broadway theatre play and later turned into a film, is classed as a romantic comedy and whilst it does include both elements of this it is in no way a traditional boy meets girl a few funny mishaps then they skip hand in hand into the sunset and live happily ever after affair.

Instead it is a revealing look at relationships, love, and how our past can affect our future expectations and desires. Gender differences, insecurities, neurosis and ideas of what romance is are looked at as we are led on a push and pull journey of connection, fear and having one person thinking initially  maybe a more casual even one night stand type of relationship whilst the other wanting forever.

The play is set over one night and as it continued I felt more and more invested and really drawn into what was going to be the outcome of what started as one night of great lovemaking.  How could they not be together...they are called Frankie and Johnny after all.

Set in a Manhattan apartment with only two actors (Richard Blackwood as Johnny and Frankie played by Ruth Everett) it is accompanied by mainly classical music playing through the appartments radio which is significant and at times forms the story arc.

The two actors did brilliantly in having me engrossed for the whole two hours into what happens, and as more and more layers are revealed about their characters and their past, I enjoyed the at times gritty and real aspects as they talked about relationships as well as the more romantic moments too. There was a good mix of humour as well as darker elements.

Unfortunately on a few occasions the actor who played Frankie didn't always keep her New York accent but it certainly didn't spoil my enjoyment of the play in any way. Richard Blackwell played his part superbly. Even though there was only one stage set throughout, the apartment was full of interesting things to look at, it looked authentic and was used to great effect in the performance.

I really enjoyed this play. It felt real and I believed it, there was swearing and frank discussions and was emotional  watching these two people connect.

When Frankie said romance is when you know who someone really is and you still want to be with them, warts and all, that summed it up perfectly

If you want to find out what becomes of Frankie and Johnny- it's playing until Saturday 2nd June

Belinda Bekki-Winter

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