There are times when going to the theatre can be a confusing experience. While a production is engaging and holds the attention, when it finishes, there is a sense of ‘what did I just see’ and you leave the theatre wondering if you had missed something or were maybe not intellectually up to the ideas of the playwright. I mention this, as I encountered this phenomenon last night at the Found111 presentation of Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love.
In a run down Mojave Desert motel, May (Lydia Wilson) is sat at the end of the bed looking upset and not making eye contact with tall cowboy Eddie (Adam Rothenberg). Eddie is trying to placate May and reassure her that he will not be leaving her again. Not only is he promising her that he will stay but he is trying to convince May that she should move to Wyoming and set up home with him. The two obviously have a very tempestuous relationship as their conversation moves between love and hate with each wanting to be together and telling each other to get out. Ultimately though, whatever her feelings for Eddie, it is obvious that May does not wish to move in with him. She has started a new job and is making her life without Eddie – even to the point of having a potential love interest in the simple but amiable and protective Mark (Luke Neal). Observing the ebb and flow of the conversation between May and Eddie is an Old Man (Joe McGann), occasionally talking to Eddie and May separately and providing a commentary on the two lovers. Ultimately, it becomes very easy to see that Eddie and May’s relationship is destructive not only because of it’s claustrophobic nature but also for another reason that becomes apparent as the play moves on to its ending.
I have to be honest and say that I’m not one hundred percent certain about my feelings for Fool For Love. Sam Shepard’s writing is tight and fast-paced getting a lot of information into the running time. This was a bit of an issue as I really didn’t feel that we got to know the characters as well as we might. This is particularly true of the character of Martin who seemed to have very little to do and I thought this was a shame as he had the potential to be quite interesting if he had been developed further. However, having said that, the main characters of Eddie, May, and the Old Man were well developed, unfortunately to the point that when the big reveal occurred, it was not exactly a surprise. The characters are all extremely eloquent and all of the actors portray their roles very well, especially Joe McGann as the Old Man who manages to dominate the stage and hold the audience in the palms of his hands as he talks.
Designer Ben Stones has created a very effective motel room which shouts its seediness from the rooftops, and Elliot Griggs lighting design makes the most of the very tight space in the theatre. There is a problem with sightlines at times, particularly when the Old Man is sitting virtually on top of the front row. However, from my position, I had an excellent view of the stage all the way through and was impressed with the design and the way Director Simon Evans moves his actors around the space.
Review by Terry Eastham
Following the critically acclaimed smash hit productions of The Dazzle, Bug and Unfaithful, Emily Dobbs Productions is excited to present Fool for Love, the thrilling final show at Found111, ‘London’s most fashionable pop-up theatre’ – Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard.
Passionate and explosive, Fool For Love, by multi award-winning playwright Sam Shepard (Buried Child, True West), stars New Jersey-born Adam Rothenberg (Ripper Street, A Streetcar Named Desire), making his eagerly awaited London stage debut, and Olivier award-nominated Lydia Wilson (King Charles III, Ripper Street, Star Trek Beyond). The cast also includes Joe McGann and Luke Neal.
Confined to a run-down motel room Eddie and May spit truth and lies at each other as they fight for a love that they can’t live with, or without. Past, present and reality collide in this searingly funny, dark portrayal of love, loss and identity set against the stark backdrop of the Mojave Desert.
Fool For Love
by Sam Shepard
111 Charing Cross Rd
London WC2H 0DT
Wednesday 26 October – Saturday 17 December 2016
Tickets: from £27.50 (with no booking fee)
Found111 now has allocated seating
Ticketing supplied by Soho Theatre
Age recommendation 12+
Contains adult themes
21 Dean Street
London W1D 3NE