“Fool For Love” was first produced at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco on February 8, 1983, with Sam Shepard directing and the two lead roles played by Kathy Baker and Ed Harris. Shepard’s notes for the production state, “This play is to be performed relentlessly without a break.” The New Repertory Theatre follows the dictate to the letter.
FOOL FOR LOVE
Play by Sam Shepard
Directed by: Bridget Kathleen O'Leary. Set, Ada E. Smith. Costumes, Eric Propp. Lights, Christopher Brusberg. Sound, Matt Griffin. Fight direction, Meron Langsner. Presented by New Repertory Theatre.
At: Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, through April 5. Tickets: $25. 617-923-8487, www.newrep.org
Sam Shepard is alive and well in Watertown. He hasn’t been in these parts for quite a spell and The New Repertory Theatre production of "Fool For Love" gives him a pretty good homecoming. Nothing much gets resolved in Shepard’s plays and this is no exception.
Eddie has driven his rig 2480 miles to track down May in some run down motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert. Eddie has a commitment problem, a drinking problem, and has his own version of the truth. May loves/hates Eddie, has had a drinking problem and has her own interpretation of their tangled past. They’ve known each other since they were in high school. They may have the same father.
The Old Man, who sits at the edge of the stage and acts as an invisible Greek Chorus, is the play’s missing link. His revelations and denials are the taproot that explains Eddie and May’s history. Martin is the hapless man who has come to take May on a first date. He seems to be the only emotionally intact person on the stage.
Stacy Fischer as May is a terrific wild-eyed, damaged, trailer trashy woman. May’s body language, provocative and self protective, practically shouts Shepard’s lines. She’s been abandoned by Eddie before and may be again. Timothy John Smith is a tightly wound Eddie, a cowboy stunt man who understands animals better than he understands women. He’s tied to her in ways he can’t rope down.
Andrew Dufresne as Martin is probably Shepard's way of showing us how far the others are from the norm. He fills that role well. As desperately as May would like a white picket fence life with Martin, she’s just not equipped for a settled life. Joseph Finneral as the Old Man has his own versions of how Eddie and May met and what role he’s played in how they’ve turned out.
Finding one’s identity amidst emotional debris is Shepard territory. When Martin asks Eddie if the stories he says he makes up aren’t lies, Eddie responds, “No, no. Lying's when you believe it's true. If you already know it's a lie, then it's not lying.”
It’s hard to tell where the truth lies in the play. Like standing in the middle of the desert outside this seedy hotel room, it’s hard to find the path to salvation at its green edges when the wind constantly sweeps it away. That’s just the feeling Shepard wants to evoke.
Just as a rodeo might not be everyone’s idea of good entertainment, neither is a Sam Shepard play. But if you do like Shepard, this production will give you a good ride.
Photo: Christopher Mckenzie