Photo by Don Kellogg

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lips Together, Teeth Apart

What a magical time on and off Broadway for Terrence McNally.  Three of his shows - two now running concurrently (Lips, It's Only a Play) and one that just closed (Mothers & Sons) are/were on stage entertaining audience to various degrees of success.  Unfortunately, Lips Together, Teeth Apart is likely on the bottom of the success scale.  Unlike his other two plays which evoke opposite but equally powerful emotions - a visceral reaction (Mothers and Sons) and hysterical laughter (It's Only a Play) - this play is neither rousingly happy nor sad.  It just is. And it wasn't that good.

As a matter of fact, it has the triple-whammy of being slightly boring, all over the map in terms of storytelling, and slightly mis-cast.   Boring?  The story is what it is - two couples on Fire Island at one of the women's dead gay brother's house.  Why are they here?  What keeps these couples together?  Why do we care?  Those questions are barely answered although asked repeatedly on stage.  All over the map?  Yes they talk endlessly about lots of issues - many of which are tangential to the plot, some of which make you wonder why they are telling you this. We never see the gay neighbors to contrast the straight (and out of place) couple at the house.  It's 1990 and AIDS is still an unknown but we really only learn why they are afraid to swim in the pool at the end of Act 3!  Miscast?  Trace Chimo (Chloe) ruled the stage with her overbearing and hysterically funny character.  She hit it out of the park.  America Ferrera (Sally) underwhelmed significantly.  She seemed lost of the stage and generally flat.  Austin Lysy (John) seemed too young and although quite handsome, not as cock-sure as the dialogue might suggest.  Michael Chernus (Sam) just didn't seem to fit with Sally and left you wondering why they were even together in the first place.

Casting aside - A 3-Act play is unique.  This play was way too long for it's own good and it felt like we just wasted time in between for both intermissions and ultimately didn't end up resolving much and left you wondering just what the point was after the 2H:30M is up.

I'm left wondering just what the first incarnation of this play would have been like a while back when Roundabout was going to do it but star Megan Mullally (Chloe, i presume) stormed off the set and quit.  For Roundabout that just may have been a blessing in disguise.