KPBS AIRDATE: MAY 26, 2000
It’s trite, but true: In unity, there is strength. Though excellent work has come from each of the three theater companies brought together under the banner of the San Diego Arts Collaborative, their joint effort brings new meaning to the “intercultural experience” and to the play they’ve selected.
Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love” concerns a push me/pull you relationship, a destructive but irresistible attachment between Eddie and May — who, we learn shortly into the brief one-act, are 1/2 brother and sister. Their father, referred to only as the Old Man, makes periodic appearances — but only in their minds. He wants exoneration for what he’s done — falling in love with two women, spawning two separate families, being unable to make a choice and trying desperately to keep his two lives separate. But once they’re known to each other, the result is catastrophic, and no matter how hard they both try to pull apart, Eddie and May are stuck together for life.
In this production, it makes perfect sense that the Old Man would be white, one of his offspring black and the other Asian. It adds layers to the dark, disturbing, dysfunctional piece. This is another of Shepard’s brief, spare contemplations of the troubled and tempestuous blood relations in our fragmented society. Here, history may be destiny. The theme may be mythic in scope, but, as Shepard’s dusty, desert plays often are, it’s tiny, even claustrophobic in setting.
There’s a tad of subtlety missing in the acting and the direction, though Patrick Stewart has cast well, drawing on his stalwart stable of Black Ensemble Theater regulars: Rhys Green, ever the nasty-man and Walter Murray, always a Nice Guy, in this case, a local schmo May is trying to date, in another failed attempt to forget Eddie. Charlie Riendeau is perfectly credible as the Old Man, though he could be a trifle more enigmatic. Asian American Repertory Theatre’s star player, Jyl Kaneshiro, is riveting as the emotionally battered May. And despite the beating the flimsy set takes in this sometimes violent play, the Fritz is the ideal place for it.
A collaboration isn’t usually what’s meant in the theater when we use the term “triple threat,” but it’s always a compliment, and this trio definitely deserves an encore!
©2000 Patté Productions Inc.