Rhode Island Theatre Ensemble's first show of 2005 is Sam Shepard's 1983 play, "Fool For Love". Shepard's sexually charged opus takes place in a shabby motel on the barren edge of the Mojave Desert, where two lovers, May and Eddie, battle for absolute power in their love-hate relationship. Passion and violence rages on into the wee hours, until the unspoken secret behind their attraction is revealed, proving how dangerously simple it is for anyone to become a fool for love. The respite after their secret is revealed is temporary and that their love, the curse of their 15 year past which haunts them, will remain forever damned and hopeless. Throw in 3 other characters including The Old Man who is the reason for their distress, May's date to go the movies who becomes entangled in the madness in the motel room and the offstage character of The Countess who is Eddie's other woman and you have the makings for this powerful production. Director CJ Racinski chooses four the best performers to handle these difficult roles, giving the audience a dynamic evening of drama with quite a few comic moments thrown into the mix.
CJ not only directs the show with a firm hand, she blocks it wonderfully with some stunning fight scenes as well as using door slamming to show the characters trying to shut each other out of their lives. She also surrounds herself with a topnotch crew. Her stage manager Leann Atkins keeps things in order backstage and onstage while running the lights. The sound designer, David Laroche produces some special effects with car noises and a blazing fire while the stark and seedy motel set is designed by CJ's husband, Bill Denise who is also the technical director for the show. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the motel reflects Eddie and May's relationship perfectly.
The role of Eddie, the macho, redneck rodeo cowboy is played by Chris Perrotti. He captures the underlying emotions of this Southerner who can lasso the bedpost with ease. Chris is loving, tender but a tightly coiled ball of tension, anger and confusion. Eddie's life consists of his old truck and tin trailer with his horses hitched to them. Through Chris' dynamic performance we learn their passion is self destructive with their continuous cycle of abandonment and returning codependence. The Countess gets her revenge on Eddie by setting fire to his truck. Shepard uses the symbol of fire to show Eddie and May's relationship should have never happened in the first place and is condemned to hell. Eddie repeats the sins of his father by loving two women at the same time. Marcia Murphy plays May the other half of this combative on again, off again relationship. She handles the fight segments with Chris, a towering 6 footer, with ease. At first she appears docile but when she explodes with anger and passion, she shows she is force to be reckoned with. Marcia conveys the underlying craziness of May by keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, wondering why she and Eddie are fighting and what is underneath their 15 year relationship. As she and Chris delve into their history, we learn of the tragic events of the past that make their presence known in their current animosity towards each other. Chris and Marcia do a fantastic job with these complex characters.
Mark Carter plays The Old Man who observes Eddie and May from a small platform on the stageleft side of the main stage. His character at first seems to be a comic one but when the true relationships with May and Eddie are revealed and how Eddie's mother killed herself with the Old Man's shotgun, we see that he is a dramatic figure, too. Only Eddie and May can see him as he comments on his past relationships with them. Mark handles this role wonderfully as he sits in a rocking chair, drinking most of the show. One of the funniest moments comes when he steps onstage for Eddie to pour him a drink from his fresh bottle of Tequilla. Rounding out the cast is Jonathan Beebe as Martin, the maintnance man, May has a movie date with. He stops a fight between Eddie and May at his arrival at the motel. Martin is told by Eddie that his tales will be better than any movie. It is in Eddie's long monologue that we learn of their flawed relationship and combined May's own memory of their past affair becomes the centerpiece of the show. So for a drama with a punch and a little bit of levity be sure to catch RITE's "Fool For Love".