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FOOL FOR LOVE
for the New City presents the Beetlebung Road Production of "Fool
for Love" by Sam Shepard.
Theater for the New City presented a fine production of Sam Shepard's 1983 "Fool for Love," a four-character drama that was a finalist for the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. For the unfamiliar, let me recount the events of the play, since they are worth keeping in mind.
Set in a room at a run-down Mojave Desert motel, the slice-of-life one-act play opens with a young couple, Eddie and May, in a heated argument. May has left Eddie because of his inability to commit, and he's begging her to return to live with him in Wyoming. This is obviously a repeat performance of a chronic situation between the two: they are drawn together, the man is unfaithful and abusive, May leaves, Eddie wants her back. As the play progresses, we learn that the couple does indeed have a deep emotional connection and a permanent bond - they have different mothers but the same father. Throughout the play, a sorry spectacle of older, heavy-drinking man - obviously the father of both lovers - appears and occasionally talks to May and Eddie, or to the audience.
May tries to get Eddie to leave, though every time he does, she calls after him. At one point, a Mercedes stands parked outside the motel. May assumes it is a woman, whom she calls "The Countess," who is keeping an eye on the unfaithful Eddie. Her anger results in a physical fight between the two.
Constantly trying to force Eddie out, May claims to be waiting for her date, and tho Eddie is dubious, a young man named Martin does show up to take May to the movies. Her hopes for a pleasant evening with Martin are dashed when Eddie engages the young man in conversation. Martin gets more than he bargained for when the couple reveal their story to him, with Eddie adding the fact that his mother had been driven to commit suicide.
An explosion is heard outside when The Countess sets Eddie's trailer on fire. He leaves to survey the damages, May feels that he will not return and hurridly packs her suitcase to make her escape.
The director Kymberly Harris did a fine job with a splendid cast. Andrew Dits played Eddie as the quintessential macho man - spitting on the floor, practicing his lasso-ing on the bedposts, showing off his physical prowess - but underneath it lost and unstable. Sophia Silver as May was more realistic and truly fed up with 15 difficult years with Eddie, but clearly still in love with him. George Oliver Hale convincingly portrayed their father - a weak loser unable or unwilling to even get his own life together. John Ruby as Martin struck just the right note as a polite, pleasant, naive young man who tried to keep up in a bewildering situation.
I was particularly struck by the way Sophia Silver's May changed when Martin came for their date. Eddie obviously brings out a great deal of anger and resentment in May, even inciting her to a physical fight. With Martin she is courteous and calm, normal behavior for a first date with a nice young man. Could she ever really be happy with Martin, or would she miss Eddie? Which is the real May?
Shepard is showing us how love is a thing that makes people crazy. Eddie and May share the madness. We are all literally fools for love.
This Theater for the New City run closes December 2, but then the producing company, Beetlebung Road LLC, will move the production to Los Angeles for performances at The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd, December 6 to 15. Angel City theatergoers who have not been introduced to this classic of Shepard's repertoire would be well advised to catch it.
It isn't often that we see a bi-coastal production in OOB/fringe venues, but kudos to Beetlebung Road LLC for showing us the merit of the concept. Let's see more of it!
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