Lips Together, Teeth Apart OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich



  • HR

  • TM

Opening Night:
October 29, 2014
November 23, 2014

Theater: Second Stage Theatre / 305 West 43rd Street, New York, NY, 10036


It's the 4th of July on Fire Island where a brother and sister and their spouses are spending the quintessential American summer weekend in an unfamiliar setting. As their season in the sun unfolds, the two couples do their best to enjoy themselves despite their prejudices and insecurities. The grill is fired up, the drinks are cold and the pool is open but no one is going in. Terrence McNally's trenchant comedy receives its first New York revival in 23 years under the direction of Peter DuBois.

  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Lips Together, Teeth Apart

    All Together, All Isolated, at the Beach

    Charles Isherwood

    October 29, 2014: The summer ocean swells ominously, and even the beckoning swimming pool proves uninviting in Terrence McNally’s 1991 play Lips Together, Teeth Apart. Intimations of mortality seem immanent: The mere zapping of a mosquito strikes an unsettling note in this tender, subtly drawn comedy-drama, set during the height of the AIDS crisis, about two couples visiting the Fire Island home of a relative who has recently died. Unfortunately, the middling revival that opened on Wednesday night at the Second Stage Theater doesn’t fully excavate the rich seams of feeling in this, one of Mr. McNally’s finest plays — and one that hasn’t dated, despite its apparently topical subject matter. (It’s infinitely better than his cough-and-you’ve-missed-a-dropped-name comedy It’s Only a Play, Broadway’s toughest ticket.) While the cast features four talented young actors, including America Ferrera (of Ugly Betty) and the versatile Tracee Chimo (Bad Jews), their performances, under the direction of Peter DuBois, tend to Jet Ski along the crests of the writing.

  • NY DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF Lips Together, Teeth Apart

    Terrence McNally's story looks at dire straights on Fire Island during AIDS crisis

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    October 29, 2014: One look at the set of Lips Together, Teeth Apart tells you what Terrence McNally is going for in his anxious 1991 comedy about grief. The time is 1990, deep in the AIDS crisis. The place is a Fire Island beach house. We see a pool, a deck and two bedrooms flanking a kitchen. There’s no trace of a living room. That’s fitting. The four people gathered for the Fourth of July are quasi-zombies, avoiding living and each other. They’re worried about what they fear could be an HIV-infected swimming pool. There’s grist for a good story about paralyzing anxiety and the need to connect. Unfortunately, to tell his tale, McNally requires 2¾ hours, three acts, endless allusions to death (of bugs, snakes, brothers, swimmers) and inner monologues.

  • NEW YORK POST REVIEW OF Lips Together, Teeth Apart

    ‘Lips Together, Teeth Apart’ strongly captures time and place

    Elisabeth Vincentelli

    October 29, 2014: While It’s Only a Play is breaking box-office records on Broadway — a textbook example of starry headliners trumping mediocre material — you may want to check out author Terrence ­McNally’s drama Lips ­Together, Teeth Apart. The revival that just opened at Second Stage has its problems, but at least it’s actually a play. The show premiered in 1991 and now feels like a time capsule. Set a year earlier in the Fire Island Pines, Lips Together tackles mortality and marital discomfort through the eyes of two (straight) couples. It didn’t hurt that the now-legendary original cast included Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski and Swoosie Kurtz. The new troupe could well end up with similarly rich careers — they’re all excellent actors, even if some are miscast in Peter DuBois’ otherwise elegant revival. Michael Chernus and Tracee Chimo have gone from playing lovers on Orange Is the New Black to siblings Sam and Chloe in this show.

  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF Lips Together, Teeth Apart

    A miscast ensemble fails to bring life to this AIDS-era play, which now has the feel of a period piece

    Frank Scheck

    October 29, 2014: The synergy between playwrights and actors is well-demonstrated in the Second Stage Theatre revival of Terrence McNally's 1991 comedy-drama Lips Together, Teeth Apart, but not in a good way. McNally wrote the work especially for its original performers — Nathan LaneChristine Baranski and Anthony Heald, with Swoosie Kurtz replacing an intended Kathy Bates — and that estimable ensemble knocked it out of the park. This current production features a talented cast including America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) and Tracee Chimo, who wowed in the recent off-Broadway hit Bad Jews. But they fail to live up to their illustrious predecessors, and as a result the play feels far thinner. Set on the beachside deck of a house on Fire Island during the 1990 Fourth of July weekend, it concerns the gathering between two mismatched couples: Sam (Michael Chernus), the regular-guy owner of a construction company; his ethereal wife Sally (Ferrera), an amateur painter frustrated by her inability to capture the island's natural beauty on canvas; Sam's relentlessly perky sister Chloe (Chimo), forever changing clothes and launching into impromptu show tunes; and her husband John (Austin Lysy), the reserved head of admissions at a boy's prep school.

  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Lips Together, Teeth Apart

    Second Stage Theatre revives Terrence McNally's 1991 drama with a cast led by Tracee Chimo

    David Gordon

    October 29, 2014: The best thing to come out of Second Stage Theatre's revival of Lips Together, Teeth Apart is the vision of Tracee Chimo as Miss Adelaide in the musical Guys and Dolls. In Terrence McNally's AIDS-themed drama, Chimo is Chloe, a Connecticut housewife whose single respite from domesticity is to work with a community-theater group. The hysterical vision of her practicing the kooky choreography for "Bushel and a Peck" along with tape-recorded piano chords is one of the few things this mostly miscast production, directed by Peter DuBois, actually gets right. Lips Together, which premiered in 1991, centers on a pair of fortysomething heterosexual couples: blue-collar Sam Truman (Michael Chernus) and his artist wife, Sally (America Ferrera), and the wealthier John Haddock (Austin Lysy), a prep-school admissions director, who's married to Sam's sister Chloe. The Haddocks are visiting the Trumans for July Fourth weekend at the Fire Island beach house that Sally inherited from her brother David, who died from an AIDS-related illness before the action begins. The weekend is rife with conflict. Both marriages are in the process of crumbling, there's knowledge of extramarital affairs, and everyone is afraid to go in the crystalline pool (part of Alexander Dodge's massive, believable beachfront set) out of fear they might get infected.



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