Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fool for Love @ The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

Most Broadway shows run about two and a half hours. This time lets people escape from their lives into a well plotted story. But then there are shows that don’t just let you escape-they pull you into a crazy world and shove you back out again in half that time and leave you blinking. With 75 minutes of beautifully orchestrated tension, Fool for Love does just that.

Fool for Love, written by Sam Shepard is a simple concept – two people in a hotel room talking to each other. But that simple concept becomes so much more when those two people are Eddie (Sam Rockwell) and May (Nina Arianda) locked in a mess of emotional, sexual, and romantic texture that simmers under every word. Watching the scene unfold is The Old Man (Gordon Joseph Weiss), who has a secret connection to Eddie and May and is removed from the action (mostly) by time and space, and Martin (Tom Pelphrey) who just wants to take May on a date and has no idea what mess he is walking into.

Both Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell are forces to be reckoned with. They weave in and out of the frenzy of emotions onstage with amazing specificity and total control. Their interpretations of the characters are very complementary to each other. Rockwell has Eddie live mostly in stillness and slow movements, but with a violent streak that bursts out like dynamite in a flurry of movement. Nina’s May is the complete opposite – May is almost constantly a whirlwind of movement and emotion, which makes her moments of stopping unbelievably powerful. It almost goes without saying that the chemistry between these two characters and actors is off the charts – if there wasn’t, there would be no play.

Gordon Joseph Weiss is almost all stillness in his role as a narrator and storyteller of the past. It would be easy to just sit back and watch, but Weiss is always raptly paying attention to the story unfolding with great focus. Tom Pelphrey injects a delightful mix of awkward, funny tension to the stew onstage, with his slightly dorky confusion at just what is up with these two other people.

Fool for Love’s pot of tension and drama is wonderfully guided and controlled by the direction of Daniel Aukin. The play is supposed to be relentless – and it is – but Aukin still is able to find moments of pause that let the audience breathe for just a second, before diving right back in. The scenic design by Dane Laffrey, lighting by Justin Townsend and sound by Ryan Rummery all work seamlessly together to create a tense, almost claustrophobic environment. Costume design by Anita Yavich is simple and yet speaks volumes about every character.

Fool for Love is a fast paced, high tension roller coaster of emotions that is immensely captivating. Do not miss this amazing production produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre at 261 W. 47th Street.

Review By: Chrissy Cody

Photos By: Joan Marcus

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