Seen & Heard

Seen Off Broadway: Franny’s Way

by ED/LD Staff on April 5, 2002

(Playwrights Horizons at the Atlantic Theatre) is Richard Nelson’s new play (he also directed) about kissing cousins in Greenwich Village, circa 1957, and it certainly has a feel for the time and place: We hear much about J. D. Salinger, The New Yorker, jazz, diaphragms, and Edmund Wilson (Scott Lehrer’s sound design, blending traffic noises and jazz riffs, adds to the authenticity). But the overloaded plot, which takes in divorce, adultery, crib death, and premarital sex, is a little too much like daytime drama. Nelson has written two gripping pieces about adolescent sexuality (Goodnight Children, Everywhere; Madame Melville); maybe it’s time for new subject matter. Thomas Lynch’s cramped, seedy, Village apartment setting is thoroughly convincing, but it sits uncomfortably in the rather large, open Atlantic Theatre space. Susan Hilferty and Linda Ross have provided a full complement of authentic 1950s day dresses for the ladies. Jennifer Tipton’s lighting pulls off a couple of daring scenes staged in semi-darkness.