By Sam Shepard Directed by Julie Noever Bats 27 July – 5 August
In the media and in popular culture we are barraged by all-too-perfect images and portrayals of romantic love. In Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love we are shown the other side of the story. The characters inhabit a harsh, dirty and downright disgusting world where love is portrayed in equally bleak terms. And while this illustration of hopelessly flawed characters in hopeless situations may be depressing, it is also refreshing and well needed.
The success of a show like Fool For Love rests with the actors and director and their ability to collectively convince the audience into believing the world in which they inhabit. The emotional intensity with which the actors perform, and their cool, calculated performances (despite their characters being the complete opposite of cool and calculated) shock the audience into belief, even despite the interesting casting of the show. Likewise, the southern American accents in Fool For Love so often problematic to pull off – are wonderfully believable in the play.
Robert Lloyd plays Eddie, the play’s antihero (there are never any real heroes in plays of this sort), a roguish stuntman who is being pursued across the country by his scorned lover, The Countess, who we never see. His character is constantly drinking tequila (by the end of the play he is blind drunk – I wonder if this is not acting), is jarringly dishonest, lecherous, misogynistic and manipulative. While his performance is admirable and engaging he doesn’t quite fit into the character he is trying to portray. It is almost as if he is not quite hansom enough to be believable.
The opposite is the case for Rachel Forman’s character May. She looks too young, innocent and pretty to be truly believable in her world-wary role and when she takes her clothes off to change this problem is exacerbated. Her body is simply too young to be that of an older woman and her physique boarders on boyish. This aside, she is a more than competent actress who is able to effortlessly dominate a stage with small, simple, and elegant gestures.
KC Kelly plays the old man, a sepulchral memory of Eddie’s father. His character is filled with complexity, he is at once gentle and brutish and desires more than anything else to be forgiven. Kelly’s performance is rich, subtle and ambiguous. They are joined on stage by Jade Daniels as Martin, May’s current love interest. He is a simple, honest character and a surrogate for the audience in the requisite detective work.
For the most part, Fool For Love is beautifully and hauntingly minimalistic. The set says all it needs to with a bed, a table and a light dangling from the ceiling. The dialogue echoes this. Until the very end of the performance the characters reveal almost nothing, a technique that intrigues, engages and ensnares the audience.