They are theatrically adventurous in Carrick-on-Suir and recently Brewery Lane Theatre gave audiences a double Chekhov experience, similar to a Gate Theatre programme and it worked. This time they picked a Sam Shepard play from the eighties Fool For Love that was made into a movie. The National Theatre recently staged two Shephard plays to considerable acclaim and this no doubt enthused David Grant to act in and direct a difficult play that carries lots of baggage and a strong nihilist influence from Samuel Beckett.
In the play Shephard confronts his real life problem with his father’s alcoholism and an old man like a ghost sits in a chair drinking Southern Comfort and talking to the protagonist Eddie, a rodeo rider who travels from show to show taking love where he can find it.
The work is set in a bare minimalist motel room of bed and chairs where the observer in the corner looks on as Eddie tracks down his half sister May. It emerges that they have a love/hate relationship and this partial incest theme gave the original play a shiver of cruelty that the movie actually avoided. May is at the end of her rope and tries to maintain a normal life by dating a local Martin a strange taciturn lawn maintenance man.
A short edgy play of less than eighty minutes alternates between seething anger, mercurial passion and boring passages set in this hotel room at the edge of the Mojave Desert. It is violent and dangerous and Sandra Power is wonderful as the changing volatile May – one of the fools for love in the title. But an ambiguous title at that. David Grant failed to match the menace and his sneer was more a smirk too often. Colin Power was a good Martin and Tom Nealon was a strong old man.
The direction was lacking in decision and the set lacked a repeating outside neon sign, a lasso or lariat was of poor material and its menace was lost due to a lack of meaningful direction with that prop. Sound effects were under used and you needed to almost feel the bullets as shock and experience a horse being burned in an offstage trailer to grasp how morally devoid these characters are. Brewery Lane will return to more conventional and exciting work in May with a Streetcar Named Desire.