FOOL FOR LOVE by Sam Shepard, directed by Ted Dykstra, with Kevin Bundy, Megan Follows, Stuart Hughes and Frank Moore. Presented by Soulpepper at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre (235 Queens Quay West). Playing in rep until October 1. $32.50-$51.50, student $25, limited same-day rush $18, youth $5. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Sam Shepard once said that you never leave a Rolling Stones concert feeling confused. But no matter how confusing a Shepard play is initially, his writing always gives actors the tools to reveal important things about the theatre and human experience.
Sometimes those same actors get caught up in the idea of what the play should be, instead of letting it just be.
That's what happens in Soulpepper's Fool For Love , Shepard's four-hander about star-crossed lovers May and Eddie, whose desire for each other can't be overcome by conscience, circumstance or family.
Despite following Shepard's stage directions to the letter, Ted Dykstra 's cast hasn't yet jelled, and the result is a production that doesn't quite satisfy, even if it doesn't entirely disappoint.
Megan Follows 's performance as May has one fault: she's faultless. All dulcet, melodic voice and precise articulation right down to the last dropped "ing," Follows pays lip service to May's grit and grime, creating too-few moments when she sells it as a desperate, passionate and unruly woman. Her portrayal is far too silky.
Her fistfight with Stuart Hughes as rough-and-ready cowboy Eddie is particularly safe, with enough pulled punches and theatrical grunts to make one wonder if it's meant to be consciously stagey.
Hughes swaggers through his role with cocksure confidence, a sexy drawl and great comic timing. The connection between Eddie and the Old Man ( Frank Moore ) extends from their gruff, macho physicality right down to the way they sip, savour and swirl their booze.
I wonder whether this production of Fool For Love will find a way in the coming weeks to move from its current safe, secure trot to the relentless pace Shepard intended.