The expectant stage: Sam Shepard can set up a world like nobody else. His stage directions at the start of Fool for Love seductively tell us we’re at “the edge of the Mojave Desert”; a woman sits on a bed in a “low rent motel room,” a man who looks like a beat-up cowboy but is really just a rodeo stuntman; he wears “dirty jeans that smell like horse sweat.” An old man in a rocking chair, drinks whiskey. What will happen? Whatever it will be, this initial moment—too brief in EgoPo’s production—promises secrets revealed (not here!), raw passion, and danger.
EgoPo’s second installment in their Shepard Season (the first production was Buried Child, and next up is Curse of the Starving Class) mostly delivers. Directed by Brenna Geffers, Eddie (Jered McLenigan) and May (Julianna Zinkel) are the sexy fools for love, people who for years and years can’t stay away from each other, try as they might. Why Geffers changed Shepard’s ending is beyond me—sometimes you have to abide the very human ambiguity.
Lurking inside both May’s and Eddie’s minds is an old man (Joe Canuso in a surprisingly bland performance) who has a fantasy life of his own as he sits and observes and sometimes meddles in Eddie’s and May’s conversation. He sometimes—irritatingly and distractingly—strums a guitar.
There are violent embraces and fierce kisses, but the most moving moment happens when, as Eddie and May nearly kiss, they both begin to smile, revealing a world of intimacy and tenderness in their relationship that no other moment shows us.
Once Martin (Steven Wright) turns up—May’s nice-guy date for the night—he becomes the bewildered pawn in the game-playing of the lovers; he is the excuse for Eddie’s telling a? the? story of their past, and then May tells her version of their desperately linked lives. Big dualities — lust/love, choice/fate, fantasy/reality, and many more—are all on the table, right next to the bottle of tequila.
The production is slightly hampered by the lack of a proscenium and the nearness of the actors to the audience; but the show provides an exciting hour as Geffers takes Shepard’s advice and plays it “relentlessly without a break.”
[EgoPo Classic Theater at Latvian Society, 531 N. 7th Steet at Spring Garden] February 5-23, 2020; EgoPo.org