Review: Fool for Love (Soulpepper)

Soulpepper Theatre presents Sam Shepard’s highly explosive¬†Fool for Love in Toronto

There’s a war happening in a motel room in Fool for Love, written by Sam Shepard and presented by Soulpepper Theatre. This relentless tale is both tragic and comedic at the same time — you’ll crack a few laughs at the dark humor and then cringe at the physical violence that led up to or was a result of that funny moment. This performance is downright explosive in that way.

Fool for Love is a story of two people that should probably never be in the same room together. May (Cara Gee) and Eddie (Eion Bailey) are two incredibly damaged people — damaged by their love and hate for each other, their co-dependency with each other, and their grievous past that haunts their here and now. The entirety of this play takes place within the confines of this motel room and mostly zeroes in on their domestic battle, one that ebbs and flows like a wave with momentary calms before a fist slams into a wall, a glass gets thrown, or hands claw, pound and grab at opposing flesh. Consider this a content warning for strong depictions of domestic violence.

It’s mentioned in the program that Shepard wrote “This play is to be performed relentlessly and without a break” above the script during the show’s original run in 1983, which sums up this chaotic production succinctly. Though there may be calms in the storm, those calms are filled with retrospective moments from Stuart Hughes, who is simply referred to as The Old Man. His past influence on May and Eddie’s lives greatly affect the battle they find themselves in now.

Bailey and Gee have outdone themselves in delivering this story. Their chemistry together is both electric and toxic; the tension between them palpable and thick. Likewise, Hughes’ portrayal of the enigmatic Old Man adds further depth and resonance to this performance. I loved the staging used for his character, loved how he stayed just outside of the motel room, talking to Eddie and May like a distant memory before finally immersing himself in the space.

As always, the attention to detail in the set design is outstanding. Lorenzo Savoini created a motel setting that feels real and lived-in. From the lighting outside the windows and even the distinct smell of horses in a stable that wafted through the theatre, it all added to the visceral experience of the show.

As triggering and hard to watch as domestic violence can be, I thoroughly enjoyed Fool for Love. All I can say is if this is something that can be stomached, it’s certainly worth experiencing.

Details:

  • Fool for Love is playing at the Young Center for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane) until August 11 2019.
  • Performances run Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm with matinees on Wednesdays and weekends at 2:00 pm.
  • Tickets range from $38 – $108 or $38 for students with ID.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by phone by calling the box office at 416 866 8666, or in person at the box office.
  • Run Time:¬†One hour 20 minutes, no intermission.
  • Audience Advisory:¬†This production contains coarse language, depictions of physical violence, and theatrical haze. Viewer discretion is advised.

Photo of Cara Gee and Eion Bailey by Dahlia Katz.

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