The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



Etcetera and
Short Term Listings



LA/San Diego






Free Updates
NYC Weather
A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Franny's Way
By Laura Hitchcock

The theme of Richard Nelson's absorbing Franny's Way is embodied in the charismatic figure of Penny Fuller when, as the Older Franny, she looks back on her younger self. Its in Fuller's poise, her wry self-aware smile, her warm luminous eyes and in the moments of remembered pain that play across her mobile face like shadows over a sunny countryside. Emotion is not recollected in tranquility here but you see the acceptance of what a rich and varied life has made of Franny.

Nelson, who also directed, has made a few minor changes since his play debuted at New York's Playwrights Horizons (see review) but the basic structure remains the same. In 1957 Marjorie (also played by Fuller) brings her 17-year-old granddaughter Franny and 15-year-old granddaughter Dolly to visit their cousin Sally and her husband Phil. The stunning first scene depicts the tragedy that precipitates the visit. The week-end becomes an exploration of love and loss in different ways by all the characters.

It's left to Marjorie to paint word pictures of New York so vivid you can see them and to recount with broad belly laughs how her father once sent her to New York to be safe from the boys working his farm. The naivite of an age when a farmer can believe New York is safe is one of Nelson's most telling details.

Domenica Cameron-Scorsese is vibrant and needy as the still-childlike Dolly who plots a meeting with the mother who left them. Elisabeth Moss plays the younger Franny, already sexually active, also plotting a rendez-vous with a past boyfriend now at NYU. Dolly keeps her illusions but Franny's not allowed to and that propels her into an action that's already brewing in Phil and Sally's sexually charged cold-water flat. Susan May Pratt who, with Fuller, is a new cast member, plays the ends of Sally, from anguish to a snide jealous sideswiping at her younger cousins to a healing fulfillment. Jesse Pennington, the token male, ranges from boyishness to bewildered withdrawal.

Nelson has a knack for writing and directing women, particularly the relationship between the sisters who bicker and scorn each other but who draw together, instinctively seeking each other's body space, when the others are in conflict or attack mode. The realistic cold-water flat is designed by Thomas Lynch. David Weiner's excellent lighting is an essential element, crucial for the scenes that take place in the dark room dimly illuminated by street lights. Susan Hilferty's costumes are authentically vintage 1950s.

Playwright/Director: Richard Nelson
Cast: Jesse Pennington (Phil), Susan May Pratt (Sally), Penny Fuller (Older Franny/Marjorie), Domenica Cameron-Scorsese (Dolly), Elisabeth Moss (Franny).
Set Design: Thomas Lynch
Lighting Design: David Weiner
Costume Design: Susan Hilferty
Running Time: One hour 36 minutes, no intermission
Running Dates: June 10-July 20, 2003
Where: The Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood, Ph: (310) 208-5454.
Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock on.June 18.
At This Theater Cover
At This Theater

Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide

Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam

Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers

The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century

metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from