Sunday, October 25, 2015

Broadway Theater Review: Fool for Love

Fools Abound, but the Lasso Work is the Most Impressive Part
By Lauren Yarger
Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love is another one of those revivals that has me scratching my head. With all the really great material out there, both new works and plays that deserve a Broadway revival, I have to question why plays like this one get the nod.


This Manhattan Theatre Club production, which was staged last year at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, is dark with unlikable characters in a dark setting (a seedy Mohave Desert motel designed Dane Laffrey) and even when their dark circumstances are revealed, we’re too depressed to feel a lot of sympathy. Did you get the dark theme?  It’s the kind of depressing story that the Pulitzer Prize committee likes: the play was a finalist when it premiered in 1983.

But for me, there just isn’t much in the story with which I can relate. Director Daniel Aukin casts two charismatic stars – Nina Arianda (who brought to life Venus in Fur) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back), but despite good performances and some really nifty lasso work by Rockwell -- that for me, was the most interesting part of the play (thank you Movement and Fights Director David S. Leong) -- there isn’t enough to work with here to make this 75-minute, one-act play exciting.

Eddie (Rockwell) and May (Arianda) are lovers reunited at the motel. They have a lot of history, ostensibly connected with “The Old Man” (Gordon Joseph Weiss) who is seated just outside the motel room door and who adds some details to their story from time to time, including the information that he apparently is married to Barbara Mandrell (what that has to with anything? Your guess is as good as mine).

Movie stuntman Eddie has driven for days to find May to convince her to leave her current love interest, Martin (Tom Pelphrey),  and come live with him in a trailer on some land in Wyoming (I kind of could relate when she doesn’t jump at that thrilling offer, but that was about it….) Eddy is almost abusive at her rejection, about the fact that she is seeing someone else and at her reluctance to begin their relationship cycle again. Somehow they can’t seem to stay away from each other, even though they know it would be best.

Naïve Martin seems like he probably isn’t worth getting into a relationship with either, especially when the Old Man reveals some startling information about the former lovers (OK, this is where the ‘fool” part comes in, because if anyone I were dating dropped this little bomb, I would have run very quickly from the seedy motel room, where, you know, I wouldn’t have gone in the first place. So not relating to any of this….)

I don’t mind dark, or even stories I can relate to personally if there is something to be learned. Shepard apparently wants us to think about how we can’t control who we love and issues of identity. I just think about how we can control where spend $150 on a theater ticket.

Fool for Love plays through Dec. 13 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th St., NYC. Peformances are Tuesday and Wednesday 7 pm; Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 pm; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm (check schedule changes Thanksgiving week; no matinee Dec. 9). Tickets $70- $150: foolforlovebroadway.com; (800) 432-7250.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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