Take a healthy dose of Nietzsche and give it a country western soundtrack and this is pretty much what you have with convergence-continuum’s production of “Fools for Love”. It's basically Hee-Haw, Grand Ole Opre and Maury Povich all rolled into one.
The play opens with three people on stage. Eddie, May and The Old Man. Eddie is at a small table cleaning a part of his rodeo gear. May is sitting on the bed slouched over with her head in her hands and The Old Man sits in a rocker with a paper cup and a bottle of booze in a brown paper bag. Eddie is a rodeo performer who has driven over two thousand miles just to be with May in a cut-rate motel in the middle of the Mohave Desert. May left Eddie and his trailer in search of a better life after surmising that Eddie has been cheating on her with a woman of means called “The Countess”.
As the short (under an hour) play proceeds you learn of the love/hate relationship that they have. You learn that they are actually half brother and sister which they found out about after they had “relations” with each other as teenagers. You learn that The Old Man is a figment of their minds and as he speaks to them in turn, the other cannot see or hear him. You learn that The Old Man who is the father of these two damaged people lived a double life spending months with one woman and then months with the other. In the end the Eddie’s mother does herself in with a shotgun. At some point a bottle of tequila is thrown in the mix as well as practice roping on the bed posts, and putting on spurs.
Into this mix comes Martin who charges into the room thinking that May is being attacked in the dark and wrestles Eddie to the ground. Martin is a “nice guy” who is simply there to pick up May and take her to a movie. He is thrown into this vat of confusion as both Eddie and May take turns lying to him about who they are and what their relationship is. The whole time, The Old Man is doing color commentary on the entire proceedings.
In the end the “Countess” drives into the parking lot and torches Eddie’s truck and trailer as Martin watches out the window. Eddie leaves to check on the damage and May runs after him thinking he will never return. Martin stares out the window at the burning truck. Queue the banjo. ..dink-dink-dink-twang.
There are a score of problems with this production. To begin with it is hitting right in the middle of the holiday season. In between “Nutcracker”, “A Christmas Story” and “Christmas is Comin’ Uptown” we are forced to endure this dry as the motel’s closet yarn and bummer of a play. Luckily it only lasts one hour and most people can endure nearly anything for one hour.
Secondly, it is being acted without one shred of passion. There is physicality but no passion. Here is a man who drove two thousand miles to be with the woman he loves. An ordinary man would devour her. Eddie simply makes kissy-poo. May hates this man’s guts for abandoning her to a life of slow trailer death while he chases other women. She exhibits clinginess while at the same time kicking him you -know-where but there is no fire behind her actions. The Old Man does an effective imitation of Burl Ives as he dispenses faux-wisdom that does nothing to help the situation. Of course, since he does not exist, it really does not matter. Martin starts out strong with a flying tackle then realizes that he is a wimp and cannot stand up to either Eddie or May.
Part of the problem is in the play itself and part is in the director not building a fire under their collective rears. Whatever it is it is nothing resembling true life. I remember after my college days in the 70’s returning to Ohio from a four month trip to California to “find myself”. My then girl friend and I did not see daylight for three days. This is the passion that is missing in this play.
Prude Alert: Not a whole lot can be said about this one. There is mention of sex, kneeing in the groin, some light profanity and lots of arguing and fighting and oh, yes, the lovers are brother and sister (half). Give Aunt Bee the night off on this one.
Shooting From The Lip (My Last Words): “Fool For Love” playing at convergence-contiuum’s Liminis Theatre is the kind of play that if you were in the next door room at the motel you would walk over and tell them to knock it off. It is a plotless journey to nowhereville that lacks passion. It is like a savorless onion that after pealing does not raise a single tear. If you want a break from tinsel and garland, this will make you forget about Christmas for awhile.
Fool for Love is directed by convergence-continuum’s Amy Bistok Bunce and features con-con actors Clint Elston as Eddie, Rachel Kolis as May, Robert Hawkes as the Old Man and Stuart Hoffman as Martin.
Fool for Love runs through December 21, 2013. Showtimes are 8:00 p.m. Thursday-Saturday at the Liminis located at 2438 Scranton Rd., Cleveland, OH 44113 in the historic Tremont neighborhood. Tickets are $15 general admission, $12 for seniors and $10 for students. Reservations and information at www.convergence-continuum.org and 216-687-0074.