Eddie, the stuntman, can put a precise figure on it. He's travelled 2,480 miles to find May, his on-off love for 15 years, in this motel room on the edge of the Mojave Desert. But May has lost count of the number of times he's suckered her into some fantasy of a life together only to leave her yet again. Besides, her new date is on his way, and she wants to make a fresh start. Just how badly would you rate her chances?
Sam Shepard's 1983 play Fool for Love is a savagely funny study of the kind of fatal attraction that veers between devouring need and touchy, furious rejection. It also contains one of the author's many versions of his own Pop, an unpredictable alcoholic given to vanishing acts. Gradually revealed to be a posthumous presence, the Old Man sitting in the corner is the father who Eddie and May did not know they shared until it was too late.
The previous London productions of the piece have tended to field home-grown actors. With the film star and rock chick Juliette Lewis and the New Zealander Martin Henderson as the leads, Lindsay Posner's revival sets out to show the benefits of using performers unrestrained by our native inhibitions about front-foot physicality. You would certainly have thought that Lewis would be ideal casting. But while she absolutely looks the part, she too often sounds (in this, her stage debut) as though she is reciting lines rather than fully inhabiting the role.
Henderson makes a strong and exciting impression as Eddie - virile, volatile, endearingly ridiculous as he tries to work off jealousy of male competition with demonstrations of his Marlboro-man skills.
Missing in this revival, though, is that sense of frantic psychological claustrophobia which is the flip-side of the peace that comes with finding a soulmate. At some level, Eddie and May are each other. That's communicated rather one-sidedly, however, in a production that plants the pair in a set that is too big and airy to evoke the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the motel.
Larry Lamb adroitly captures the Old Man's unlovely transition from irresponsible detachment to indignant, hollow self- justification. And Joe Duttine is very amusing as May's sweating, nonplussed suitor, who, all too understandably, tries to escape head first through a window from this seething, incestuous stand-off and Eddie's sarcastically toying intimidation.
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