Keegan Theater Fool For LoveBy Courtney Ferguson • Oct 20th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Church Street Theater, Washington DC
Through November 6th
$25/$30 Seniors and Students
Reviewed October 18th, 2010
Fool for Love performed by the Keegan Theater is easily one of Sam Shepard’s most well known plays. Originally starring Ed Harris and Kathy Baker on Broadway, Shepard says that the inspiration for Fool for Love was in response to the feelings he had due to a tumultuous break up he was going through at the time…. “a little embarrassing” he says. The show is famous for its physically exhausting performance by its actors, as Eddie (Mark A. Rhea) and May (Larissa Gallagher) fight each other for their territory. Eddie and May have a history together that has created a bond they cannot let go of, even though the love they have for each other is driving them both into the ground. The play examines the effects of true love, as well as a theme that is prevalent in most of Shepard’s work, the effects of characters in the West “living on the edge,” fighting for a dream that will never come true….
The play takes place in a run down motel room in the middle of the Mojave Desert where May has been living in squalor by herself for god knows how long. Eddie, her on and off again lover, shows up out of nowhere and tries to persuade her to leave with him to Wyoming to go live on a farm. It is revealed that Eddie had abandoned May in a trailer in the middle of the desert to run off with another woman. May wants to move on with her life and leave Eddie and his BS behind, but her feelings for him cause her to bounce back and forth, despite what he has done to her. Eddie threatens to take her back, but May won’t go without a fight and a few low blows.
As a duo, Mark A. Rhea and Larissa Gallagher work well together on stage. Opening night at the Church Street Theater, Rhea was definitely the stronger of the two. No doubt she is fit for the role, but Monday night seemed to be an off night for Gallagher who gave a very contrived performance of May. Shepard is very specific in his notes and blocking in the script, easily throwing actors into a pattern that seemed to capture Gallagher who delivered very few genuine moments on stage Monday night. Mark A. Rhea saved the duo, delivering a very strong performance as Eddie. Rhea’s portrayal as Eddie, showed a man disintegrating in his own misery, tryin’ to regain his dignity and lasso up his woman, neither of which are available anymore. Even Rhea’s progression into drunkenness was believable as he sloppily downed a bottle of Cuervo, striking curiosity as to what exactly was in that bottle sir?
KJ Thorarinsson enters as May’s date, the innocent Martin. The dumbfounded expressions on his face matched the feelings of those in the audience as he tried to figure out what the heck is going on between these two maniacs, we feel ya Martin. Martin’s entrance added a comedic flare but was also the catalyst for what came next.
The Old Man played by Kevin Adams was brilliant, as his own mannerisms and personality paralleled those of Eddie. His figure on stage was an important portrait of men, specifically fathers in the West during that time, who lacked in raising their children and turned to alcohol as an aid. The Old Man is relaxed and innocently looking in on the action until the very end he gets shaken up by a revelation from May that then forces him to examine the consequences of his actions.
Technically, certain aspects of the show did not sit well. I question a decision about the lighting, in the beginning, having the lights fade from light to black, light to black as Eddie tries to coax May into speaking to him. Each time the lights would come on, Eddie would be in a different position, still trying to coax May, insinuating that time has passed without any luck. During the first black out, the moment seemed to be taken away, and then the second, and then the third. Attempting to make the moment funny seemed a bit biased, setting the play up as a comedy which it was anything but despite the fact it did have comedic elements. Watching Eddie pursue May in those opening moments and seeing their initial reactions from the starting moment would have been more effective than concentrating on making it a funny moment. In a way taking away the audience’s opinion about whether or not this moment is supposed to be humorous or serious.
Overall the show was enjoyable, despite some performance flaws and would definitely recommend it to audience members, with the confidence that the discrepancies that took place Monday night were only due to Opening Night jitters.
- Eddie: Mark A. Rhea
- Mae: Larissa Gallagher
- Martin: KJ Thorarinsson
- Old Man: Kevin Adams
- Director: Colin Smith
- Assistant Director/Stage Manager: Megan Thrift
- Set Designer: George Lucas
- Sound Designer: Tony Angelini
- Original Light Designer: Dan Martin
- Costume Designer: Kelly Peacock
- Tour Production Assistant: Joe Rhea
Disclaimer: Keegan Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5730.
Courtney Ferguson is currently a student in the theatre arts program at Howard University pursuing a B.F.A in acting. Her plans are to go on to grad school to study Voice and Speech. Her credits include work on and off the stage, and she can be seen in the upcoming production of The Laramie Project with the Providence Players.