>fool for love by glass theatre
>reviewed by jeremy samuel
of the play is the reason Glass Theatre's treatment of it works. For all
that they have translated it into Chinese and infused it with oriental
influences, and for all that this goes against the Midwestern rodeo sensibility
of Sam Shepard (ruggedly American playwright-actor, currently to be seen
bombing Mogadishu in 'Black Hawk Down'), the production holds together
because actors and director look beyond the superficial to commit to its
emotional truth. It helps that the translation - done, impressively, by
the Vice President of the Beijing People's Arts Theatre - is spot on.
>>'The production holds together because actors and director look beyond the superficial to commit to its emotional truth'
The audience files in to an opening tableau - three figures, an old man and a couple, are isolated in separate pools of light. Throughout the action the characters will never truly touch one another, however much they appear to converse. May, the woman, lives alone in the motel, and Eddie has come after her to resuscitate their relationship - but their interaction is mostly in the form of circular, destructive arguments, covering territory clearly over-familiar to them.
revelation (there's always a shocking revelation) turns out to rest with
the old man, who is Eddie and May's father. They are in fact half-siblings,
having started the affair before becoming aware of their relationship.
May and Eddie throw this fact at each other, never completely coming to
terms with it. Meanwhile their father delivers long, self-deluding monologues
about how happy their respective childhoods were. They ignore him, largely
because he isn't physically in the motel room with them; one suspects
Shepard stuck him onstage largely to raise the intensity of the emotions
already swirling about.
directs with a steady hand, economically creating his atmosphere with
erhu music and an excellent lighting design by Xu Bing. He builds towards
the climax of the play efficiently - although one could wish for more
variation in pitch and pace - in which Eddie describes his first, childhood
meeting with May and her mother, his father's mistress. At this point
a woman and child appear at the back of the stage. This threatens to turn
over-literal, but they remain beyond the back flat, distant, present for
only a moment with twilight behind them before vanishing, like a fragment
of a happy memory - a touch of magic, one of several in this production.