Fool for Love — Image courtesy The Jungle Theater

Fool for Love

The Jungle Theater
Directed by Bain Boehlke

Not much happens in the hour it takes to perform Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love. The plot could be summarized in a couple of sentences, the entire play takes place in a single location, and neither of the two main characters — the middle-aged sometime lovers Eddie and May — undergoes any type of meaningful growth or development. Instead, the audience is basically taken on a tour of the history and interpersonal dynamics between these two characters. And The Jungle Theater‘s current production of Shepard’s play, directed by Bain Boehlke, puts the focus squarely on this gradual elucidation, making no effort to obscure the static nature of the story.

Fool for Love — Image courtesy The Jungle TheaterThe play opens a few moments after Eddie (Terry Hempleman) arrives at the run-down Mojave Desert motel where May (Jennifer Blagen) has been living since parting ways with Eddie some time before. Eddie asks May to come back with him to Wyoming, where he has bought a farm. May is reluctant to rekindle her relationship with Eddie, and in fact, he has arrived just as she is getting ready for a date with another man, Martin (Jason Peterson).

Eddie and May both seem to be affected by twin forces of attraction and repulsion. We learn that the two of them have tried to settle down on several occasions and that Eddie always ends up leaving. May’s vacillations are much more transitory; the moment she pushes Eddie away, she tries to pull him back again. Eventually, we learn a little about their background. Sharing in this spectatorship are The Old Man (Allen Hamilton), an initially mysterious character who sits off to the side of the stage and occasionally tries to assert knowledge of and control over the proceedings, and Martin, an essentially innocent young man who can only passively observe what is going on.

Fool for Love — Image courtesy The Jungle TheaterThis is the sort of play that stands or falls on the strength of the acting, and in Boehlke’s production, the actors are successful at bringing Shepard’s text to life. Hempleman stands out in the role of Eddie, conveying both his surface air of relaxed confidence and his deeply troubled interior. In the pivotal quasi-soliloquy in which Eddie narrates his and May’s history for Martin, Hempleman holds the audience at rapt attention. Blagen does a compelling job of portraying the extent to May feels trapped by her relationship with Eddie, as well as the extent to which she is still drawn to him. Hamilton gives us an appropriately Freudian (and at the same time impotent) take on The Old Man, and Peterson portrays Martin as a largely affectless nonentity who cannot really begin to comprehend the twisted nature of Eddie and May’s relationship.

The sparse set, brightly lit and thickly painted in dingy colors, contributes to the play’s overall mood while giving the actors plenty of space. Somewhat more intrusive are the over-the-top sound effects that appear every time someone slams a door or pounds a fist against the wall. That quibble aside, this is a strong production, buoyed by excellent acting, that makes a convincing case for Shepard’s play.

Photos by Michael Daniel

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Eric Prindle

administers Bad Entertainment. He is also an attorney who leads a team of legal marketing copywriters at FindLaw. He is not Eric Prindle, the mixed martial arts fighter.

2 thoughts on “Fool for Love”

  1. Your first sentence, “Not much happens in the hour it takes to perform Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love.”

    Is there a contradiction between the first sentence and the last of your critical analysis of this Play ?

    “this is a strong production, buoyed by excellent acting, that makes a convincing case for Shepard’s play.”

    1. Well, sometimes I like a play in which not much happens. By the end of the play, nothing has really changed, but the audience has been given an opportunity to witness something.

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