THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY OF BEING IN LOVE
Dark & Stormy Productions is putting on the 1984 Pulitzer-finalist drama, “Fool For Love,” from Aug. 24-Sept. 16
Photo courtesy of Dark & Stormy Productions
By Lianna Matt
Scrap the idea of star-crossed lovers and puppy love: The late Sam Shepard’s play “Fool for Love” became a finalist for the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for drama because of its raw storm of emotions that can’t be parsed into simple categories or tropes. The past haunts the show’s two main characters, May and Eddie, as does their addiction to each other, and love and hate work together as they slither through the underbrush, encircling and suffocating the couple.
CurtainUp theater critic Elyse Sommer noted that Shepard's characters, “tend not to have a tragic flaw or fateful quest. Instead they're caught up in the emotional tumult of their lives.” Luckily, the team putting it on is fit to handle such a nuanced task.
Dark & Stormy Productions is showing “Fool For Love” from Aug. 24-Sept. 16, and it’s bringing back much of the same cast and crew that earned them City Pages’ best theater company award last year. Despite such a serious play, the company, named after the cocktail that artistic director Sara Marsh was drinking at the time, has its heart in dark comedy. However, as Marsh put it, “With something as great as ‘Fool For Love’ or ‘Extremeties’ [a William Mastrosimone drama they did last year], you've got to go with those when you have the chance and the right people.”
The right setting doesn’t hurt either. Dark & Stormy puts on its shows in the Grain Belt Warehouse in Minneapolis, and the 60-person seating design is changed to suit each the show. Marsh describes it as a “hotbox.” There is no separation between the audience and the play's Mojave desert motel room.
Although the four-person play is in a male-centered, Western world, Shepard writes May as not only an adversary to Eddie, but a worthy one, according to Marsh. The script is rife with the weight of choice and twisted emotions, but throughout it all, May still comes across as a developed, strong character with her own thoughts, feelings and motivations. With such a character-heavy play, Marsh really goes back to the text, as well as a few hints from Shepard himself, to know how to portray the character.
“There's actually a really great quote from Sam Shepard,” Marsh says. “‘I always thought the desert was the antithesis of peace, something that attacks you, so you don't go to the desert for peace.’ For me that really informed me about the play. These are two people who aren’t coming together to reconcile; it's a stormy encounter. They're coming together to do battle, to hash it out, whether it comes through a resolution or not.”
Shepard wasn’t a fan of tied-with-a-bow endings, either. He preferred endings that acted more like a stepping off point to something new and unknown. So while every aspect of Dark & Stormy’s show is deliberate, down to the shape of the end table legs, it’s not because they’re trying to get you to figure out their conclusion. It’s because they want you to come up with your own.