As Cadence Theatre Company's first show, one can only hope that “Fool for Love” is an indicator of good things to come. Sam Shepard's play takes place in a grungy motel room on the edge of the Mojave Desert, and centers around a couple whose on-again, off-again relationship has been plaguing them since high school.
May (Maggie Roop) lives in the motel, and stuntman Eddie (Robin Bloodworth) has come a great distance to see her. May can't decide whether she wants Eddie in her life or not, and Eddie's wanderlust keeps nagging at him. Throughout the play, the two confront their passionate, yet destructive love. When Eddie leans in for a kiss, May knees him in the groin.
In between skirmishes, each has surreal conversations with the Old Man (Gordon Bass), a person they both used to know. Billy Christopher Maupin plays Martin, a simple nerd who comes by the motel to take May on a date, and ends up being pulled into their romantic maelstrom. Maupin portrays Martin sympathetically, instead of using him to provide comedic relief. This is smart because, through the Old Man and Martin, the audience is able to peer into Eddie and May's troubled past.
Director Anna Senechal Johnson's storytelling abilities let the audience lose itself in the lives of these characters, and Shepard's script is both engrossing and at times poetic. The chemistry between the upset Roop and Bloodworth's cowboy is a little stilted at times, but they gel for the most part.
Kevin Johnson's set captures the very feel of broken dreams and bad decisions, and Lara Koplin's costuming is just right. May's sad red dress perfectly symbolizes her desire to become something different, to leave a doomed cycle and start a different, if boring, life with Martin. Slade Billew's lighting and the sound design of Philip Campbell and Jesse Senechal are equally excellent, and incorporate the poetic nature of the American West.
As the dust settles in the final minutes of the play and the wind howls in from the desert, Martin is left just as the audience is—in disbelief of the force of Eddie and May's star-crossed love.
Cadence Theatre Company presents “Fool for Love” at the Firehouse Theatre, 1609 W. Broad St., Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 4 p.m. Tickets are $25. For information go to cadencetheatre.org or call 233-4894.