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Theater review: ‘Getting Frankie Married – And Afterwards’ at Open Fist Theatre

April 8, 2010 |  3:00 pm
400.GETTING FRANKIE MARRIED - 3 Happiness studies show that people are poor predictors of what will bring them bliss. That irony suffuses the late Horton Foote’s uneven but absorbing Southern dramedy, “Getting Frankie Married – And Afterwards,” now at Open Fist Theatre.

Foote’s territory is Harrison, Texas, a small town where no one leaves home without a covered dish, a Bible verse, and a keen ear for everyone else’s business. It’s 1990, and pint-sized matriarch Mrs. Willis (Judith Scarpone) keeps a firm grip on her household: caretaker Mae (Algerita Lewis), devoted son Fred (John Lacy), and his girlfriend Frankie (Martha Demson), who have been keeping company for 25 years without benefit of clergy. When he suddenly pops the question, Frankie is stunned. Why now? Turns out there’s another woman (Laetitia Leon) who claims Fred proposed and is suing him for breach of promise.

In L.A., Foote’s Lone Star State irregulars can seem close to parody, which makes underplaying essential. Some of the supporting cast in Scott Paulin’s solid production push too hard, working against the fine performances by leads Lacy and Demson. But by the second act, the play finds its groove, and James Spencer’s cheerful living room set, filled with commemorative plates and Victorian furniture, starts to feel more and more like a place we all recognize: home, where the heart is broken, over and over again.

While “Frankie” isn’t among this Pulitzer Prize-winner’s greatest works, it still showcases the kind of old school, unaffected writing that conveys more about the human desire than most newfangled efforts.

– Charlotte Stoudt

“Getting Frankie Married – And Afterwards.”
Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends May 15. $20-$25. Contact: (323) 882-6912 or  Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes.

Photo: Stephanie Erb, left, Laura Richardson, Martha Demson, Andrew Schlessinger and Teresa Willis. Credit: Maia Rosenfeld.