There are posters all over the Interplayers lobby warning of impending doom and global destruction, all because Terrence McNally's script for *Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune* is R-rated.
These are two adults having a one-night stand and all-night-long debate about whether they're going to make anything more of it than just sex. So while the conversation can get philosophical and even poetic, it also includes references to particular body parts and sex acts, along with fart jokes and f-bombs.
This is objectionable?
Two people have just fucked each other silly, and now they're supposed to revert to prudish standards of decorum? So why this need for "mature language" warnings plastered all over the Interplayers lobby?
How many people ever attend a play without having asked anyone ANYTHING about its content? (That is, in a world filled with electronic media, advertising and word-of-mouth, it'd be awfully difficult not to know the basic premise of this or any other stage play, if you're actually attending it.)
If you're looking for a G rating, you don't show up at a one-night-stand play in the first place. And if you're curious about how humans behave in their most intimate, vulnerable, needy moments, you're probably expecting that the language might get spicy like jalapenos.
Shouted profanity can be discomforting, yes, because audience members need to continue sitting there in the dark, more or less quiet -- and more or less lending consent to all the dirty talk by the fact of their remaining silent about it.
But when it comes to sex, love, companionship, and the pursuit of happiness, a little squirming around in our seats may not be such a bad thing. You won't change your mind about anything if you don't get a little uncomfortable first.
The point being: Why is Spokane posting R-rated warnings that would have been appropriate 40 years ago but which now seem superfluous and quaint? When people fuck and then discuss it afterwards, they tend (surprise, surprise) to use the word "fuck."
The 1991 movie with Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino sanitized most of that out. It was intended for a general audience, and the suits took out whatever they deemed objectionable. (They got an R rating.)
But in the theater, we need to feel that we're nearly in the room with these two. And a couple engaged in all all-night boinking session are not about to shy away from colorful terms.
Every single person in the Interplayers auditorium had to know that they were about to witness a play about fornicators -- a one-night stand, working-class characters, emotions laid bare, a very frank discussion. So why are we making such a big deal here about the dirty talk?
Reed McColm told Bobo that he had to soft-sell the script to the Interplayers board, downplaying all the off-color language that McNally's characters use.
For some, prolific profanity is a deal-breaker: If a play has it, they're not going. And that's their right.
What I'm objecting to is the notion that profanity-laced plays are somehow a) unrealistic or b) ipso facto immoral.
But they'll miss out on the play's ultimately hopeful message. The Christian message of salvation -- we are all sinners, God's grace has redeemed us, we must endure, we must choose to live generously -- is actually validated by a play like Frankie and Johnny.
It isn't a bleak or immoral play; it's an honest and hopeful one. I just wish it were being given a better production than it currently is at Interplayers.
[ spoof R-rating from panelsonpages.com ]