3 Stars

★★★ Love in the Desert: Sam Shepard at Found111 Theatre

foll-for-love-2Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love is the last play to be staged at Found111 Theatre. The space can be found at the top of the soon to be demolished Central Saint Martins art school building on Charing Cross Road. While the play isn’t the best ever staging of this dark American love story, the pop-up theatre and accompanying bar are definitely worth a visit.

Set in a motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, the desolation of the location provides a striking symbol for the bleak desperation of our lovers, May and Eddie. The set design by Ben Stones is fabulous, using the awkward angles of the existing space to allow the tension and atmosphere to build, but most effective is the door which slams with an almighty force each time Eddie enters the motel room, a reminder of the latent power that threatens to destroy May and Eddie.

fool-for-love-4Played by Ripper Street actors, Adam Rothenberg and Lydia Wilson our couple have been apart for some time, but Eddie turns up unannounced and informs May that she can come back to him and live in a trailer on a farm in Wyoming. May adamantly refuses, and we see the two of them fall into the same destructive behaviours that has broken them before. We should feel a huge amount of tension between these two, like a coil of aggression ready to spring, but sadly it isn’t present between Rothenberg and Wilson. As a result the first half falters slightly and we have to wait until each character is given the chance to tell their own truth, only then does the drama of confrontation ignite the lovers to reach those animalistic levels necessary for Shepard’s script.

fool-for-love-3May is visited by the man she is seeing (played by Luke Neal) whose dumb docility only serves to exaggerate the fierceness of their relationship. His misunderstanding of the situation is played with good comic timing and brings a shade of lightness to the production. The other visitation is a rather ghostly one, with the choric figure of the Old Man (played by Joe McGann) intervening to remind his children of their past, his wonderfully grizzly presence desperate to make things work but doomed to watch their destruction.

Found111 Theatre is destined for destruction but let’s hope Emily Dobbs, the producer of this show, continues to find unique venues to stage new productions.

Fool for Love plays at Found111 until December 17th.

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