BWW Reviews: Intimate FOOL FOR LOVE Draws You Into the Characters and Their Physical Conflict
FOOL FOR LOVE by Sam Shepard is about romantic obsession, although that may be redundant: Romance IS obsessive. It is feisty, muscular, sexually charged, and often based in fantasy, creating a dream lover where no such person exists.
Chalk Repertory Theatre has created a very intimate way to experience the show, setting it in the backhouse of a West Los Angeles/Beverlywood area home transforming it into May's 1980s hotel room as she attempts to untangle herself from Eddie on the night their hearts reach their breaking points. With only 20 audience members at each performance, you can't help but be drawn into the story and characters since you are sitting in the hotel room with them, watching them run in and out of the room, slamming doors, hiding in the bathroom, drinking, and of course wrestling on the floor right at your feet. Director Charlie Oates uses the space so well that the hotel room becomes more than just a set - it is a real place and we are all part of the action.
Shepard's short, relentless depiction of the relationship between May and Eddie who are irresistibly drawn to each other yet unavoidably pulled apart, centers on the immense passionate sexual energy between the two lovers, coupled with their painful and violent past.
Teri Reeves embodies May in her body and soul, finding places to demonstrate her innate sexiness which draws Eddie to her. From where I was sitting, I could see her posing provocatively in the motel room door, letting me see the May she is trying to keep away from Eddie. At another point, she slides down in a doorway, reduced to tears. Being so close to her, I had to remember not to reach out and offer her some comfort as May really seemed to be a real person in that moment, just as her crawling across the floor and scratching at the carpet opened up her animalistic nature that is unable to resist the pull to Eddie.
Brian Slaten is the kind of man any woman would find hard to resist, so it is no wonder his Eddie drives May to the point of distraction and madness. With just a flash in his eyes or the sneer at the side of his mouth, Slaten dominates the small room with his inner sexy beast. And as Eddie continues to drink tequila, the action gets more heated both physically and emotionally. With the anger Slaten expresses, it is a wonder Eddie has any self control at all as May drives him to the point of insanity as she first rejects his advances and then begs him to never leave her.
You see, Eddie has traveled 2,400 miles to get May and take her away with him, realizing he can no longer live without her. But the day he arrives, May is waiting for Martin (hunky Desean Kevin Terry) to arrive for their planned date. By the time Martin arrives, Eddie is on the brink of madness and now must deal with the green-eyed monster engulfing his tequila-clouded mind. Poor Martin gets drawn into a situation he is not prepared for at all, and his physical confrontations with Eddie are totally overwhelming to the senses.
As the combustion builds, it is revealed that the Old Man (Richard Wharton) watching the action from a rocking chair led a double life and is an integral part of both May and Eddie's lives, his hidden past actions putting up what should be an immoveable roadblock. Wharton often shares tales of his own fantasy lover, so real in his own mind it will make you think that it would have been better for Eddie and May to think of their attraction that way. No such luck.
They're together, then they're apart, they're together, and the fire, obsession and overwhelming need for possession never abates. He is like a disease to her, and Reeves tour-de-force breakdown when she realizes how stuck she is in their dismal situation, will grab at your heartstrings. Slaten's pure carnal appeal is breathtaking, making it easy to see how May cannot resist him. Their bravery in taking on these two challenging roles and bringing them to such artistic heights is not to be missed.
FOOL FOR LOVE by Sam Shepard, presented by Chalk Repertory Theatre from June 14 to July 6 on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm, set it in the backhouse of a West Los Angeles/Beverlywood area home. With only 20 audience members per show, advance ticket purchase is required at which time the exact address will be provided.
Tickets are $20 and may be purchased in advance at www.chalkrep.com
They are joined by Desean Kevin Terry as Martin and Richard Wharton as the Old Man.