As a devoted fan of Nina Arianda I looked forward to seeing this first Broadway joint production (Manhattan Theatre Club in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival) of Sam Shepard’s FOOL FOR LOVE first produced in 1983. She does not disappoint. Going full throttle on all cylinders she is the distraught May, mate of long time missing former lover Eddie (Sam Rockwell). She needs him and loves him and wants him to stay and then just as quickly to go then stay again – to fill her empty life no matter what she says.
And she says a lot in this 75 minute saga that takes place in a seedy motel room where you can almost smell the mildew – somewhere in the Mojave Desert. She also speaks volumes with her wild mane of hair as she grapples with Eddie both physically and verbally – attempting to sort out her complicated relationship with him that usually ends the same way when they part. Depending on which one is telling the story.
Eddie is a cowboy. Fit and lanky and ready to lasso May in again as he returns after a too long absence. He also is a story teller and a drinker. May is on the wagon but not for long as she waits for her “date” to arrive. It’s a love hate relationship ready to continue a cycle that should have been broken about fifteen years ago.
Who is telling the truth? Cause when the truth hurts too much – one sometimes resorts to telling lies. It’s a he said – she said type of thing they have going which makes for some mighty fine and fierce dialogue and slamming doors.
When the unsuspecting Martin (Tom Pelphrey) arrives they are in full throttle. Trying to recover, May retreats for a very prolonged and hard to believe stay in the bathroom while Eddie “baits” the easy going and naïve Martin with his version of who he is and what his relationship to May might be allowing for some humor to creep in.
Now here is the fly in the ointment. Off to the side of the stage sits The Old Man (Gordon Joseph Weiss) staring into space while sitting almost frozen in an armchair who becomes a sort of Greek chorus – commenting and giving his thoughts on these two lovers who may be even more closely related to one another. Giving the love factor an ick factor.
May and Eddie erupt every so often. A bewildered Martin – a regular guy who does yard work tries to take it all in, coping as best he can but he is in far deeper than he ever expected. More than just going to the movies with May.
Trying to undo the mess of her life May is forever trying to straighten out the sheets on her bed – to no avail. Her bed and her life remain a mess.
Great acting. Great chemistry between May and Eddie. The play itself isn’t totally satisfying. Straightforward direction by Daniel Aukin and excellent fight sequences by David S. Leong. At The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.
Photos: Joan Marcus
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