Playwright Sam Shepard's 'Fool for Love' portrays a surreal West

Posted: Thursday, March 16, 2006

Like many of Sam Shepard's plays, his 1983 "Fool for Love" includes a very real depiction of the American West with a surreal twist.

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Mae is a wind-swept survivor, trying to put her past behind her and waiting for her boyfriend in a dusty motel. Eddie, her ex-lover, shows up, half-crazed after a 2,800-mile drive and determined to win her back.

The two bicker, trading barbs as the boyfriend (Martin) arrives. Mae and Eddie share their stories of how they met. Both versions may or may not be exaggerated, and both feature an old man who's part narrator, part torment and part hallucination.

"Fool for Love" was nominated for a 1984 Pulitzer Prize for drama. Robert Altman turned it into a 1985 film with Shepard, Kim Basinger, Harry Dean Stanton and Randy Quaid.

Director Ishmael Hope discovered the story in a book.

"I thought it was a great, sexy love story that plays with the American cowboy myth," Hope said. "I guess I like plays that can connect to the American imagination."

Dan Reaume (Eddie) is the lone cast member with extensive acting experience. This winter, he played Ezekiel Cheever in the mainstage production of "The Crucible." Here, he plays a manic, womanizing stuntman - prone to outbursts, Tequila and fantasy. Reaume performed a scene from the play almost 17 years ago when he was studying acting.

what: "fool for love," a perseverance theatre second-stage production

when: 11 p.m.-midnight, fridays and saturdays, march 17-18 and 24-25; 2-3 p.m. sundays, march 19 and 26.

where: perseverance theatre phoenix room

tickets: pay-as-you-can

"All I could remember was it had a real truth about cowboys, not necessarily riding the range or anything, but just the rambling nature and the inability to settle down," Reaume said. "It's easy to relate to it. I've always been interested in the cowboy mentality."

Margaux DeRoux is the tortured but prideful Mae, temporarily off booze and trying to escape her abusive past with Eddie. It's DeRoux's first substantial role.

"For many years I haven't done any theater, so this has been a really good learning process for me," DeRoux said. "The music has definitely been huge - listening to old country songs and getting a feel for that piece of life. As far as (Mae) goes, there's a great deal within the text. Her character is pretty conflicted, and that's something that anyone who has felt love has gone through."

Steve Handy (the Old Man), a cellular technician with ACS and a Juneau resident since 1995, has his first role since he was Johnny Rich in the 1998 mainstage production of "Johnny's Girl."

It's a difficult role. It's unclear whether the man is a figment of Eddie's imagination, whether Mae can see him and whether Eddie or Mae's version of his story is true or embellished.

"The relationship between Mae and Eddie and the Old man was obviously real at some point, or in some state," Handy said. "It leaves a lot to the observer.

"I've deliberately refrained from renting the movie or reading too much online, because I don't want to have a pre-conceived notion of what I'm going for other than relying on Ishmael's direction."

Bo Anderson (Martin), the master carpenter at Perseverance, is new to the stage. He plays Mae's unwitting new beau, who arrives to pick her up for a movie date at the same time that Eddie has whipped himself into a frenzy.

"He's the straight-man simpleton," Anderson said. "He's confronted with this bizarre, insane story about love, and at first he rejects it, then he kinds of accepts it. It's sort of easy and incredibly difficult at the same time. I have to play an interested an audience member who just stands there and reacts."


Ishmael Hope - Director and Stage Designer; Lily Hudson - Stage Manager/Props/Lighting Design and Crew; Doniece Gott - Costume Design; Jim Simard - Lighting Design; Eric Caldwell - Lighting Design and Crew; Zori Wallace-Keck - Sound Design; Amanda Burrous - Lighting Design and Crew; Bo Anderson - Master Carpenter; Ed Christian - Fight Choreographer.

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