Fool For Love at The Theater For The New City is an electric piece of work. Part of Sam Shepard’s trilogy, Fool For Love is his most recognized work. It is the story of four characters, Eddie, May, The Old Man and Martin. Set in a motel in the Mojave Desert, it is a one set, one scene and a no intermission play. The play opens to The Rolling Stones “Wild Horses” as it should. The music sets the scene for three rough and tumble, hard drinking people, and Martin, an outsider in every way. Martin is softer than the other three. He is civil, polite and cares about his fellow human being. The other three have a past, a history that only a writer like Sam Shepard can put forth.
Sam Shepard has won 10 Obie Awards for writing and directing, the most of any writer or director. He has written 44 plays, books, essays and memoirs. Shepard started acting through The Village Gates Ralph Cook, the head of St. Marks Theater. Many of his works were produced at La Ma MaMa. Shepard had a penchant for Western genre plays, Cowboy Mouth, Buried Child, True West and A Lie of the Mind. Sam Shepard has co-written songs with people like Bob Dylan, “Brownsville Girl.” Sam Shepard was a great actor in his own right, The Right Stuff and Black Hawk Down to name only a few. After Sam Shepard’s death in 2017, his work continues to resonate throughout the world. He was featured on the cover of Newsweek. Shepard is one of the most versatile artists of our time. He taught classes in writing, acting and directing and has received numerous awards, prestigious awards, for his work. Sam Shepard’s plays are still in vogue in the New York City Theater scene. Buried Child played last year at the Pershing Center, Fool For Love right now at TNC and True West will be performed at the American Airlines Theater this winter. When one thinks of great American playwrights, Sam Shepard has to be in the same sentence with people like Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. Sam Shepard churned out play after play, year in, year out.
Fool For Love tells of Eddie driving 2,480 miles to be with May ( Sophia Silver), a past love, who he misses. Kymberly Harris direction did a wonderful job in keeping Shepherds play dark and raw. Eddie (Andrew Dits), is a two fisted, bar brawling, cowboy. Eddie is all man, ready to go with anybody who gets in his way. He toys psychologically with Martin (John Ruby), the way a killer whale toys with a seal. With May, Eddie has met his match. May is tough in every which way. A looker, May can drink with the best of them. Shepard gives us a more in depth work, a deeper work with Fool For Love. In Buried Child, we have the psychological deepness with the brothers. In Fool, we have The Old Man (George Oliver Hale), who does a brilliant job as a two fisted, whiskey swigging former cowboy. Hale gives us a tough guy who is tormented by his decisions.
Fool For Love cannot be pulled off without good acting nor great lighting. When I saw Fool For Love in 1983 at The Circle Repertory Theater, it featured Ed Harris, Will Marchetti, Ludlow Martin and Kathy Baker. The play also had a very young Bruce Willis in the wings as an under study to Ed Harris. I would see this show twice, once with Harris, once with Willis. Silver, Dits, Hale and Ruby all do a very believable, complementing job, and they do great service to Mr. Shepard’s work. David Goldstein gives us industrial lighting when we reach peeks in the show. We get a little romantic lighting when Eddie and May are civil. Goldstein does a very good job when The Countess shows up (twice in the play). If this lighting is not done well, it would ruin the suspense, the concern that the audience should have. Goldstein nailed it, as did the sound design in this play. Jesse Mandapat gives us just the right amount of bugs and shots that makes this a very good version of Sam Shepard’s, Fool For Love. The program has a picture of what looks like the old days of New York City. If you look closer, it is modern day New York City. Old or not, one thing is for sure, if you do Shepard right, they will come.