Theatre: Lips Together, Teeth Apart
By Terrence McNally
A gay community in Fire Island provides an unlikely setting for two straight couples who are discovered lounging poolside, staring out to sea. Sally, married to Sam, a New Jersey contractor, has inherited the house from her brother who died of AIDS. Sam’s hyperkinetic sister, Chloe, and her smug, aristocratic husband, John, have come out for the Fourth of July weekend. Amidst the seemingly mundane activities, it becomes apparent that the two men despise each other because John has had an affair with Sally; Sally is panicked and melancholy because she is pregnant and fears miscarriage; and Chloe seems determined to drive them all mad with her incessant babble and enthusiasm for musical comedies. Through monologues unheard by the others, the characters reveal a desperate sense of individual isolation. The only people these four characters find more alien are the gay men partying in the houses on either side of them. As they divert themselves from their own mortality with food, cocktails, The New York Times crossword puzzle, fireworks, charades, and biting jabs at each other and the boys next door, Sally and Sam and John and Chloe find little to celebrate about themselves or their country on its birthday.