Friday, June 29, 2012

Lips Together, Teeth Apart

Thursday night I saw Terrence McNally's Lips Together, Teeth Apart at New Conservatory Theatre. The play premiered in 1991 & is definitely an AIDS play, though no gay characters appear on stage. 2 straight couples, in-laws, are spending the 4th of July in a beach house on Fire Island. The house has been bequeathed to one of the characters by her recently deceased brother. The 4 are uncomfortable being there & behave abrasively. The play takes place in the 1980s & comes across as a period piece. It took me a while to realize why the characters are afraid to use the house's inviting swimming pool.

There was an awkwardness to the performance that I could not put my finger on. The action occasionally stops for the characters to deliver interior monologues, which are indicated by dramatic lighting changes but which provide no new information. At one point an actor talking directly to the audience even gets interrupted by another character. The script includes many references to Broadway shows & operas, though the cast pronounce the name of the composer Gluck as if it rhymed with "luck." The somewhat elderly audience was low-key but attentive.

§ Lips Together, Teeth Apart
by Terrence McNally
San Francisco Premiere | Decker Theatre
New Conservatory Theatre Center
Directed by Dennis Lickteig

Sarah Mitchell (Chloe)
Marie O’Donnell (Sally)
Michael Sally (Sam)
Cameron Weston (John)

June 28, 2012 at 8p

§ Production photo: Lois Tema Photography


sfmike said...

Man, that sounds ghastly even by Terrence McNally standards. Thanks for the consumer report.

Axel Feldheim said...

Besides this show, I think my only exposure to Terrence McNally comes from his appearances on the Met opera quiz & from the opera version of Dead Man Walking. I saw this with a friend who is a regular at the New Conservatory Theater, but even he found this one odd.