John Ellison Conlee, Maggie Lacey, Jenn Gambatese and Chris Henry Coffey in “Lips Together, Teeth Apart” (T. Charles Erickson photo)
A three day weekend over the 4th of July in a beautiful house on Fire Island should be a dream in paradise, with sun, surf, sand, savory suppers and stimulating speech. Not so for the two couples who gather together for the holiday. Sally’s brother David has just died of AIDS, that is startling enough, but at the hospital she learns he had an African-American life partner. She doesn’t know if she is comfortable keeping his home and this weekend is a trial, of sorts, a test run, to see if she should hold onto it, sell it, rent it out or just give it outright to David’s lover.
Let playwright Terrence McNally pull up a beach chair and seat you on the deck of his provocative drama “Lips Together, Teeth Apart” enjoying a sunning at the Westport Country Playhouse until Sunday, July 30.
John Ellison Conlee and Maggie Lacey (T. Charles Erickson photo)
Sally Truman (Maggie Lacey) loves to paint landscapes and say personal prayers, but involved as she is she still has time to have an affair with her sister-in-law’s husband John (Chris Henry Coffey). John has had some bad medical news, so maybe that is somewhat of an excuse for his despicable behavior. His wife Chloe (Jenn Gambatese), perky 24/7, and Sally’s husband Sam (John Ellison Conlee), an inveterate questioner, are siblings and this unhappy quartet is sharing close quarters for a family confab. Since it is the 4th of July maybe one or more of them will declare their independence.
With housefuls of gay neighbors on both sides, the two couples grapple with secrets and suspicions, lies and innuendoes. Between the muffins and the mojitoes, the accusations and the recriminations, the full moon, kite flying, fisticuffs, flag waving and fireworks, everyone becomes alternately introspective and evasive. While Chloe sings show tunes, to prove what a good actress she is, there is a three-ring circus of drama unfolding all around her. Mark Lamos directs this biting confrontation of emotions, all set to explode on the holiday, like a skilled ring- master.
Chris Henry Coffey and Jenn Gambatese (T. Charles Erickson photo)
For tickets ($35-60), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, route 1, Westport at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online. Performances are Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Sunday at 3 p.m. and 2 p.m. selected Wednesdays.
Move in for a long weekend with Mr. and Mrs. Truman and Mr. and Mrs. Haddock as they take an insightful journey into what drives them to drink and to dream.