Under your skin

Fool for Love

Stop nerd-on-nerd crime.

Stop nerd-on-nerd crime.

Rated 5.0

Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love packs a powerful punch. Like many of Shepard’s plays, it’s raw, gritty, violent, sexual, uncomfortable, in your face and under your skin. Shepard, a playwright before he was an actor, explores the dynamics of relationships, mostly dysfunctional, using the West as a backdrop and oftentimes as an additional character.

These aren’t John Wayne’s Old Westerns—they’re more akin to the Coen brothers’ New West.

Fool for Love is sparse in characters and place. It’s basically the volatile story of the never should have been together but can’t stay apart damned love affair between Eddie and May. The setting is a seedy motel room on the edge of the Mojave Desert, where May is hiding from Eddie, all the time hoping he finds her. And he does.

In essence, Fool for Love offers a perfect vehicle for two actors to showcase their chops, which Capital Stage provides for Jonathan Rhys Williams as Eddie and Stephanie Gularte as May. Williams and Gularte are explosive and mesmerizing, a talented duo daring us to watch their train wreck. And as much as we don’t want to look, under their fierce dynamics and unstoppable energy, we can’t look away. It’s a tour de force performance—singular because that’s what they become, playing off each other and with each other toward their inevitable tangled fate.

In the sad motel room, where the sheets are as worn out and threadbare as Eddie and May themselves, stories and secrets spill out, some reluctantly, others forcefully. Into this mix come the mysterious shadowy figure played with subtle aplomb by Loren Taylor, and an affable David Campfield as Martin, the poor appalled fool who stumbles into the mess and acts as the audience’s surrogate conscience.

This taut production is driven by Janis Stevens, who proves to be as talented a director as she is an actress. Praise to the production crew for the simple set, the lighting that provides dramatic shadows and the sound that provides the added drama.

However, Capital Stage is faced with the challenge of a play that’s a hard sell, easy to praise, hard to recommend because of the unpleasant content—as B Street Theatre found out with their production of Shepard’s God of Hell a couple years back.