ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Frankie is mild, stereotypical
Starring and written by: Mary Ellen MacLean
By Jeff Zon
A presumably 40-year-old woman dressed in a silly, red ruffled dress and short
messy hair, walks awkwardly into the spotlight.m The set (the term is used
loosely) is comprised of a painted mural paper banner welcoming the class of
1982 to their high school reunion.
The woman walks up to the audience and greets them as though they were characters
in attendance, then orders a drink, sips and makes a face. Some joke about
drinking rye from a Styrofoam cup. Mild laughter.
MacLean is the one-woman cast of Frankie, a recent addition to the revival
of The Grand Theatre’s UnderGrand Series. The series itself takes place
in the McManus Studio Theatre. Looking around, there are approximately 50 women
and three men in the audience.
The story of Frankie follows MacLean back to her high school gymnasium, in
her high school town, with her high school friends — and foes. She recounts
story by story, labouring to act out multiple people in a conversation. The
kicker? She’s a lesbian.
At first, one might expect drama to ensue when lesbian walks into a room with
old friends and has to present a wife instead of a husband to unsuspecting
peers. Instead, she reveals she has been a lesbian since high school, and the
stories she tells are about her love for another woman in her circle of friends.
Frankie of course is the main character’s name, which she changes from
Francine as she aspires to embrace her sexuality.
For a one-player show, MacLean lacks the intensity required to keep the audience’s
interest. Stuttering from serious introspection to light comedy, the audience
never really feels the humour.
Littered with ’70s and ’80s themed throwaway gags and potshots
at gay male mannerisms, the play is unimaginative and dull. MacLean’s
supported characters are acted with hollow stereotype and rarely come off as
genuine. She even makes a high pitch catty voice for the gay man, and a low
booming voice for her father, as if reading a story to a child.
Upon the conclusion of the 80-minute act, Frankie achieves closure with an
old flame (her first female love) and finds her old best friend Joey arriving
late after a flat tire delay. Just like there was hope for Frankie (the character),
there is hope for Frankie (the show). Anyone over the age of 30 may be able
to supplement the lacking story with nostalgia. Then again, there are always
re-runs of Degrassi.
Frankie plays tonight and Saturday night at 8:00 p.m.. Tickets are $18 for
general seating at the McManus Theatre. Call 672-8800, or visit www.grandtheatre.com.