FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE --
(Studio Theatre, through June 17)
Who says only the beautiful people should get the love stories? Terrence McNally's warm and unpretentious play shows how Johnny, a short-order cook in a Manhattan hash house, wins the heart of Frankie, a middle-aged, overweight waitress. In the course of a night at Frankie's, the two engage in some fairly explicit sexual talk and it's not arm-wrestling that rumples the sheets on the foldaway bed. Nonetheless, the play emits a sweet, old-fashioned innocence. It may seem odd to talk of courtship, when Johnny (Lawrence Redmond, giving an immensely likeable performance) spends most of the evening in his underpants, while Frankie (Nancy Paris, and not so good) is forever opening and closing her wrapper. But that's the age-old ritual being played out. He's a short-order cook on a white charger. She's his waitress fair. And they end up, from all appearances, happily ever after. -- David Richards
MADE IN BUENOS AIRES --
(GALA Hispanic Theatre, through Sunday)
Emending a predicament from "Hamlet," the four characters in this Argentine drama ask themselves, "To go or not to go?" Is it nobler to remain in the lower-class suburb of Lanus, suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Or fleeing a sea of economic troubles, emigrate to the United States? In translation, at least, this play by the late Nelly Fernandez Tiscornia is overly didactic and the plotting is rudimentary. But a fair number of truths get uttered. You could say that "Made in Buenos Aires" takes the audience behind the headlines, except that such a description is usually applied to seamier endeavors and nothing sensational is getting exposed here. Tiscornia is concerned with the pain of living -- and not living -- in a troubled, but seductive country. -- D.R.
WOMEN AND WALLACE --
(Source Theatre, through June 30)
Jonathan Marc Sherman wrote "Women and Wallace" when he was 19 years old, and it is not patronizing to say that for a 19-year-old, the results are not bad. By the same token, prospective audience members for this work should also be 19 or thereabouts. They will identify with the hero, one Wallace Kirkman, as he grows up from second-grader to freshman in college, comes to terms with the opposite sex and struggles to put the memory of his dead mother behind him. You cannot fault Sherman for writing about what he knows. Still, you can't help looking forward to the days when he knows a little bit more. Going for a bright and lively production, director Randye Hoeflich emphasizes what is least interesting about the play -- its sitcom aspects. What makes the work novel -- an eerie absurdity -- tends to get overlooked in this staging.