Theatre Review: FOOL FOR LOVE with Ego Po Classic Theater

Ego Po Continues Their Sam Shepard Country Season with Fool for Love.

Ego Po Classic Theater continues their Shepard Country season with Fool for Love, the 1984 Obie winner for best play as well as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Directed by Brenna Geffers, Ego Po demonstrates why they are such a treasure for the Philadelphia theater community, especially those who like serious, hard hitting drama.

Director Geffers has a gold star cast on which to bring alive the conflicting language of one of America’s greatest playwrights.  The play opens with Eddie (Jered McLenigan) and May (Julianna Zinkel) reuniting after an allegedly abrupt absence.  McLenigan begins the play with the iconic Shepard stance (right leg slightly akimbo), while Zinkel starts from the beleaguered “pike” position sitting on her motel room bed.  We learn that they have been lovers, but in a complex, somewhat violent relationship.

Shepard’s language helps to capture the strain of mental and physical abuse.  McLenigan’s natural charm serves him very well as he embodies the internally torn Eddie.  He and may clearly have a long history, but a troubled one.  Zinkel is brilliant as the abused woman just looking for her freedom, but irrationally being drawn back in this toxic relationship.  They play a brutal game of continual “come and go.”

May finally tells Eddie that she is waiting for a man she has met to go to a movie.  Eddie refuses to leave hoping to ruin Mays date, Martin played with both strength and confusion by Steven Wright.  Martin is a surrogate for the audience as first Eddie and then May recount the story of how they met.  Their story is “footnoted” by an old man who sits with his guitar and interjects interesting and finally revelatory information into the mix.  Joe Canuso uses just the correct amount of restraint to give him the appearance of constantly in May and Eddie’s heads.  To offer more would be to give away plot twists that are very much a part of the play.

This stellar cast hits every note truly to both their credit and the credit of the director.  She is ably assisted in her process by Chris Bratek’s scenic design, Timothy Martin’s lighting design, Natalia de la Torre’s costume design, Chris Sannino’s sound design, and Matt Basen’s choice of props.  They are very important because Shepard relies heavily on atmosphere and director Geffers and her staff provide a great playground for her actors to ply their craft.

Fool for Love runs at the Latvian Society Theater at 531 N. 7th Street.  This tale of the pain brought on by love runs until February 23rd.  Check for time and tickets at 267-273-1414 to reserve your ACCESS tickets.  For other information go to www.egopo.org.

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