Fool for Love

The relationship of the doomed duo in Fool for Love gets explosive in Capital T's production

Kiss, Kiss ... Boom!

Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd, 512/479-7529
Through Nov. 22
Running time: 1 hr., 20 min.

Love can be a many splendored thing, sure, but it can also be a gut-wrenching nightmare. The love depicted in Sam Shepard's Fool for Love, presented by Capital T Theatre, is a far cry from the love of fairy tales, but unlike a bad relationship, it's entirely worth your time.

Meet May, a veritable powder keg who's fit to burst over every move made by her recently returned ex-flame, Eddie. She clings to him and sobs, screams for him to leave, loves him deeply, but hates that he came to find her. It's hard to blame her on the last count – he stomps into her motel room unannounced, chugs tequila, cleans his rifle, and begs her to leave with him. Did I neglect to mention that he's been splitting his time between her and another woman?

Oh, and he's her half-brother. There's also that.

Eddie is your quintessential Shepard character: a macho, belt-buckle-bedecked cowboy who's driven across the country, horse trailer in tow, to reclaim his woman whether she'll have him or no. Adding to the tension, Eddie makes his grand return just as May is about to leave for a first date with the much meeker Martin. Wes Raitt plays up the humor of the situation, creating a welcome comic reprieve as Eddie alternates between interrogating him and drunkenly relating memories of his and May's father. Joey Hood deftly maneuvers between Eddie's sometimes violent erraticism and his buried masculine vulnerabilities, maintaining a strong performance at both ends of the spectrum. He also successfully emulates characteristics of his father, the Old Man (Travis Dean), who, though he spends much of the play listlessly observing from his rocking chair, is the catalyst for much of the action and the broken model that informs Eddie's own behavior with women.

It takes two to tango, though, and, as with any dance, Eddie and May's has been fine-tuned over several years to include various dips and turns – it's an ongoing, all-consuming game of cat and mouse. Unstable though the pair might be, Molly Karrasch handles the intricacies of May's personality with superb intuition and an astute attention to detail that seems well thought out, yet effortlessly natural. Karrasch breathes life into May, creating a believable, pitiable human from a character who, in less able hands, could easily have been a caricature. By the end of the play, you'll either hope that the pair will sever ties entirely or, shockingly, wind up rooting for this doomed relationship, incest notwithstanding. Both outcomes look bleak, but like the star-crossed siblings, you'll find yourself hoping nonetheless. While this may well be a byproduct of Shepard's smart storytelling, Karrasch's honest intensity raises the stakes in what is one of the more powerful performances by a local actor in recent memory.

Strong acting may drive the production, but the technical aspects heighten its discomfort and drama. Lowell Bartholomee's jarring sound design ups the ante, while, as usual, Ia Ensterä's rustic and textured set provides the ideal atmosphere for this story to unfold.

To say the course of true love never did run smooth would be a gross understatement for poor Eddie and May. Buckle up for a bumpy ride down lovers' lane that's as uncomfortable and tragic as it is provocative and engaging.

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Fool for Love, Sam Shepard, Capital T Theatre, Hyde Park Theatre, Mark Pickell, Molly Karrasch, Joey Hood, Travis Dean, Wes Raitt, Ia Ensterä, Lowell Bartholomee

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