Carl Barat and Sadie Frost shacked up in a motel may sound more like something you would be likely to read on the gossip pages of a newspaper than in the culture section, but theatre company Love&Madness has placed the pair on stage together in Sam Shepard’s explosive Fool For Love.
Set in a dilapidated motel on the edge of Mojave desert, Fool For Love centres on dysfunctional lovers May and Eddie, who are engaged in a passionate battle against one another. May is determined to finally break their 15-year ties, while Eddie is equally determined to take her home with him.
When an innocent bystander becomes a witness to their fiery, obsessive and claustrophobic relationship, their shocking story unravels and the bond that ties the two so closely together is revealed.
In the audience, past the dirty, clothes strewn set, the voice of another generation speaks, clutching a bottle of Jack Daniels and taunting Eddie and May with his versions of events. A ghost of both their pasts, he is the tragic link that binds the two together.
Making his stage-acting debut, ex-Libertine musician Barat plays the brooding, tempestuous and manipulative rodeo performer Eddie. Gone is Barat’s indie-boy swagger, replaced with a John Wayne cowboy shuffle. Dressed head to toe in denim, Barat is every bit the Marlboro man, but for his trademark floppy hair, which looks slightly too clean for someone who has crossed America in a trailer to track down his lost lover.
As the lost lover herself, Frost emulates the sense of being perpetually displaced with a desperate, frustrated take on May, who looks no more than a teenager in her cut-off shorts and little girl haircut. As she lies on the bed with unexplained bruised legs, smudged make-up and clutching a blanket, the character’s enormous vulnerability is made clear.
Artistic director of Love&Madness and director of the production Neil Sheppeck makes no secret of the fact that Frost and Barat’s celebrity status was a part of the casting decision, in order to give the play an “epic quality”, and that is undoubtedly the reason why many people will flock to the Riverside Studios to watch the pair’s love story unravel. A member of rock royalty onstage with the equally famous Frost causes the play to become a piece of voyeuristic theatre, the audience unashamedly as interested in the chemistry between the actors as between the characters.