Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 25, 2014

Fool for Love

Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA
through August 2
by Jarice Hanson

When one thinks of love stories, one often thinks of the giddiness of falling love, but in Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love four characters show us the painful side of obsession, compulsion, and the pain of love.  The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s production, brilliantly directed by Daniel Aukin currently on the Nikos Stage is an immersive sensory experience in storytelling.  From the moments the actors walk on stage to take their places in full light, you realize this is going to be unique production of this iconic one-act play. In the script, Shepard instructs actors to perform the piece “relentlessly.” 

Photo by T Charles Erickson
As May, Nina Arianda radiates desire and vulnerability.  Sam Rockwell as Eddie is threatening and powerful.  As “The Old Man” Gordon Joseph Weiss makes up the trio of id, ego, and super-ego that define the complex relationships that are enacted before Christopher Abbott—a regular guy who show up to take May on a date, only to find that he (like the audience) is the judge of the characters’ stories.  The ensemble is woven together seamlessly, but both Arianda and Weiss have particularly effective moments that create magical realism that create a special bond with the audience.  The action takes place in a sparsely furnished motel room in the Mohave Desert, a metaphor for the west that once was, and a fitting location for lust, impending violence, and struggle—whether real or imagined.

Sam Shepard’s plays are sometimes painful to watch, but few authors reach into the depths of one’s soul with such beautifully crafted words as he, and when a director understands the text, the performance can be magical.   In this 88 minute roller-coaster of emotion, given emphasis by Ryan Rumery’s sound design, Fool for Love becomes a haunting, memorable story of love in an impossible situation.  This production is a masterful realization of one of Shepard’s most morally complex plays.