Fool For Love

Published April 17, 2008

A desolate motel room: the bed is functional, but little else, the desk is cold and unloved. Through the windows, the flashing of the neon sign can be seen. This unfeeling environment is the setting of Fool For Love, Sam Shepard’s play which gets a London revival at the Apollo with film stars Juliette Lewis and Martin Henderson and the West End’s own Larry Lamb and Joe Duttine. Matthew Amer attended the first night.

The dankness of Bunny Christie’s motel set, with its bare walls and harsh light bulbs, provides a contrast to the passion of the relationship played out within its confines. Lewis and Henderson play former lovers whose relationship is far from straightforward. Eddie (Henderson), decked top-to-toe in the denim of a wannabe cowboy, has travelled thousands of miles to find May (Lewis). Now the power struggles can begin. She wants him to leave, then she doesn’t. He wants to go, then finds a reason to return. The relationship moves from affection to disgust to violence and anywhere and everywhere in between.

A constant presence on stage, though never interacting entirely with the action in the motel room, is Lamb’s cap-wearing, rocker-sitting Old Man, whose relationship with the two becomes clearer as the play progresses. Shepard’s play moves from that of a merely tempestuous relationship with Old Man’s introduction and the talk of fantasies. The audience may be seeing a reality, but whose reality and which of the characters, if any, are telling the truth becomes unclear. Fergus O’Hare’s sound design adds to the otherworldliness with earth shuddering, reverberating crashes, more heightened than natural.

Both Eddie and May have the chance to tell their sides of the stormy story, giving Henderson and Lewis – a striking presence in a figure-hugging crimson dress – the chance to flex their speech-making muscles.

Duttine’s Martin, the most everyday of the participants, in a bumbling, nerdy way, stumbles into the fracas to collect May for a date. He stays – though only after attempting an unsuccessful escape – to ask many of the same questions the audience were pondering. Some are answered, some are not.

MA