Fool for Love
nytheatre.com review by Mitchell Conway
March 6, 2009
Sam Shepard's Fool For Love is a short, relentless depiction of the relationship between May and Eddie, who are irresistibly drawn to each other, yet unavoidably pulled apart. The immense passionate sexual energy between the two lovers, coupled with their painful, violent, sickening past, is the real conflict at work in the play. Unfortunately, this battle is never truly present in this production, and a visceral sexual drive is lacking between the principal actors.
Director Katherine Krause has created some nice moments. I enjoyed the door slams with extra echo added, accompanied by a dynamic light shift. Christina Watanabe also deserves credit for these moments, and for some especially effective lighting to indicate offstage action. Her combined effort with scenic designer William George McGarvey to include a number of on stage lights from the bathroom and hallway gives a strong sense of realism. But, the solid dark blue color through the window at the back of the set is a distracting oddity. The room itself is as bare as the implied desert around it. To have the motel room totally empty is a strong choice, considering some direct references to pictures on the wall by the Old Man (Eddie's father, a spectral observer of the proceedings). This choice elucidates where reality ends, and illusion/delusion begins in the relationship between the motel space and the moments involving the Old Man.
Played by Bill Weeden, the Old Man looks quite creepy in a number of moments, sitting in his rocking chair; his disregard makes clear his ownership of the conflict at the heart of the play. The production loses dramatic focus when he loses ownership of the story, and it is taken over by Eddie and May. The sexual tension between Eddie and May is not palpable. Kevin Shaffer as Eddie displays a great deal of power and frustration (and shows surprising speed disassembling a shotgun), while Katie Bender as May gives off the air of someone truly broken. They don't feel evenly matched, and there isn't a feeling that the two might tear each other's clothes off any second. The dynamic of the relationship is not such that it communicates the impossible circumstances they are trapped in. It lacks that tangible love/hatred mix that can only exist toward someone you love most.