Fool For Love (Heart In Hand Theatre/The Playwright Project)

Heart in Hand Theatre’s Fool For Love is another adept piece from Toronto’s Playwright Project

Attachment-1Fool For Love is one of seven plays in the 2013 Playwright Project. Seven plays written by Sam Sheppard are performed at seven different venues throughout the city by seven different theatre companies on seven nights.

I went to opening night of Heart In Hand Theatre’s production of Fool For Love at May Café.

Fool For Love is the story of May and Eddie, two people in a seemingly doomed on-again, off-again relationship. Eddie has returned to May after a protracted absence. A quiet desperation looms in the air of May’s motel room at the beginning then quickly shifts to anger, tension, jealousy and hurt as the two hash out their grievances. These two lovers are bad for each other and their relationship always ends up the same, with Eddie leaving and May starting over.

At the top of the play, we wonder what it is that bonds these two. Why do they continue to return to each other after fifteen years of cyclical dysfunction?

The old man sitting at a table offstage nursing his bottle of Jack Daniels reveals through anecdote the couple’s surprising connection to each other.

Danger mounts when Eddie’s former lover arrives at May’s motel on a stake out. Martin, May’s date, is the vehicle for full disclosure as both Eddie and May unveil the secrets of their relationship to him.

Robin Wilcock’s Eddie is a dusty, lasso swinging, tequila swigging, rough and rugged stunt man. His gait, swagger and accent are so believable I could almost smell the hay, horses and sex on him.

Jessica Huras’s May is feminine but tough and a great balance to her partner. She holds the reins of power as much as she is controlled by them.

Steven L. Bird’s Old Man is laid back and surreal … until things get real and he explodes with incredulous rage.

Brandon Coffey is fantastic as Martin, May’s simple, earnest and wholesome date. He is the one who disrupts the tension between Eddie and May yet he unwittingly evokes a heightened sense of danger from the two. His vulnerability spurs feelings of protectiveness from his audience.

Donna Marie Baratta’s direction is well done in terms of blocking, pace and intention. She uses the small performance space effectively and creatively and the flow is excellent.

One of my general peeves is lighting. Given that this play will be performed at multiple venues, there is no time to finesse lighting inconsistencies. There were many intense moments when the actors were not standing in enough light for me to see emotion register on their faces. I know it was there because I could hear it in their delivery. My partial blindness could be a result of where I was sitting—I had the upstage light shining in my eye for most of the performance.

The set is simple and bare bones. A single bed and a small table occupy the stage and this is just enough to suggest a cheap motel with a doorway overlooking the parking lot. The preshow music, a slow and twangy guitar, makes me expect to see tumbleweed roll across the stage.

Fool For Love is rife with revelation, jealousy, need, anger and the painful contradiction of wanting someone to stay and go simultaneously.

Details:

  • Fool For Love, part of The Playwright Project, runs until May 7th at various venues across Toronto
  • Shows are at 8 pm
  • Individual tickets are $15.00 with a 3 Show Pass: $40.00 or 5 Show Pass: $65.00
  • Tickets are available online or at the door

Photo by Constant Van Rumbyeke