As I see more and more theater I've been trying to get to the root of why I love theater so much. Define the things about plays and musicals that make me keep coming back, and what makes me like some shows more than others. One of the feelings that I have learned that I love, is the feeling you can get once a show is over, like you are taking your first breath in hours. Feeling almost like you have been punched by a story to the point that you need to take a moment to collect yourself before standing up and walking out of the theater. Not necessarily because you are so emotional but because of have seen something with depth that leaves you in a state shock and awe, and it the case of Sam Shepard also confused (but in a good way).
Dark and Stormy Theater's latest production, Fool For Love by the late great Sam Shepard did just that. I have read Shepard's work in the past but this is the first time that I have seen it. And if Dark and Stormy's production is any indication, Shepard is a genius of leaving you in a state of shock.
Fool For Love is a short show at just over 70 minutes but it packs quite a punch. Exploring the relationship between May, played by Sara Marsh, and Eddie, played by James Rodríguez, two past lovers who can't quite tell whether or not to run away from each other or never leave each other's side. Both Marsh and Rodríguez work well off of each other with a very apparent chemistry. An Old Man, played by Patrick Coyle, sits almost ghostly in a corner interjecting at times, dolling out bits of information about both May and Eddie. Finally Antonio Duke comes in as Martin, May's current boyfriend. The character and Duke's performance perfectly play off of the tension that any past lovers in a Sam Shepard play are bound to create, adding in some welcome comedy in the second half of the play.
Dark and Stormy's space in the Grain Belt Building doesn't necessarily scream that it was made for theater. A large column interrupts the center of the room, and it is always interesting to see how it will be used in their productions. In this case the action is all on one side of the column, with some seats on either side and even more surrounding the "stage". The set up is very intimate which plays well with this work. The play in uncomfortable, but you are right up close with it and there is no way to get away.
The design work of the show is also impressive and all pieces fit together well. Lighting design is by Mary Shabutura, Costume Design is by Lisa Jones and Properties Design is by Katie Phillips. All the pieces are brought together by director Mel Day and sets the scene of a seedy motel somewhere in the desert.
After the conversations that the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers have been doing around diversity and inclusion in the Twin Cities Theater community it is encouraging to see so many women's bios on the page in the program dedicated to the creative team. Including the late playwright Sam Shepard the ratio is 70% women and 30% men, it seems even if the statistics were swapped it would be unlikely to find this in most professional shows.
Dark and Stormy's Fool For Love in a short but jam packed show. It is playing until September 16th.