Fool for Love
By Sam Shepard
A Patina Production
Directed by Julie Baz
Limelight on Oxford, Darlinghurst
Season runs until January 12
As we all take our seats at the Limelight on Oxford theatre, the main characters are already on stage, in position, like frozen statues.
It’s as if the show had already started and the characters have paused, as a courtesy to our intrusion.
The lights then dim and the characters come alive.
The setting is a motel room, located somewhere near the Mojave Desert in the US.
The room is simple; just a single bed, a table and chairs and a bathroom.
The set and costumes are overwhelmingly country style.
Room dividers, entry and exit points are done in a manner resembling a corral.
This is in keeping with the ‘locked in’ feeling the main characters grapple with throughout the story.
On the floor, holding onto the bed is May, a young woman. She appears upset.
At the table is Eddie in cowboy regalia, looking stern and dominant.
The have clearly been quarreling.
We learn that May and Eddie are former lovers and Eddie has travelled more than 2,000 miles to hopefully reignite the relationship and take May back to a rural lifestyle in Wyoming.
May still has feelings for Eddie but is not interested in what he proposes.
She has a job and plans for a new life.
She realises that to go back with Eddie will mean a rehash of their previous destructive relationship.
As they talk, Eddie’s actions imply he may have a violent streak.
Perhaps this explains May’s hesitancy? He intimidates her by practicing his lasso; he aims at the bedposts, each time pulling the lasso tighter as if to demonstrate his dominance.
He then reveals his rifle case and intends to clean it as they talk, but May sensible puts a stop to it immediately.
Eddie has issues to deal with besides May, namely drinking and womanising.
To complicate their discussions, May is awaiting her new beau Martin to arrive for a date.
Overshadowing all these interactions is the Old Man.
Old Man is a conduit to the audience, narrating and completing the full picture about May and Eddie’s troubled relationship.
Fool for Love, written by Sam Shepard, is a dark story about forbidden love.
Director Julie Baz has ably assembled the right cast and crew for this production.
It remains tight, well-acted and engrossing for its entire 75 minutes.
Accents are mastered, sound and lighting create effective mood changes and the set and costumes bring colour and contrast.
All characters are interesting and performed admirably.
Kate Betcher as May is an ideal choice.
She embodies the persona of May as she blossoms from the weak, tragic figure to the uncompromising, confident woman.
Eddie is played by Lachlan Ruffy.
He struts around like a cowboy would and brings a likable cheekiness to the role.
Joel Horwood as Martin works well too — suitably puzzled as he tries to figure out what is unfolding before him.
Neil McLeod is perfect as the Old Man.
He looks, walks and talks exactly as the character requires.
Fool for Love is good entertainment.
I’m unsure why the plural ‘Fools’ is not used as all the key characters are best advised to walk away from that relationship.
Which character is the ‘fool’?
As I overheard after the show, “Are we not all fools for love?”