McQueen & Company, a new theater formed by area actor Diana Cameron McQueen, has a mission to mount works not recently staged locally. Its inaugural production, Sam Shepard’s 1983 “Fool For Love,” hasn’t been seen in the Triangle for a decade. The production provides a welcome chance to be reacquainted with this fascinating look at sexual desire, family secrets and alternative facts.
The hour-long one-act charts events one evening at a rundown motel near the Mojave Desert. Rodeo drifter Eddie has come to reunite with his on-again-off-again lover May. Their intense obsession with each other both drives them apart and forces them back together.
May left Eddie the last time over his dalliance with a rich woman. Despite Eddie’s pleas and promises to reform, May says she’s not in love with Eddie any more. She asks him to leave because she’s waiting for Martin, a man she’s recently met. That provokes Eddie into drinking the tequila he’s brought, insisting he wants to meet Martin. May’s fears that things will turn violent are soon justified.
Shepard adds a fantasy element to his gritty tale with “the old man,” who sits outside the action observing. His mysterious comments to Eddie and May, in often conflicting views of their past, eventually reveal his significance to their relationship.
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Ami Kirk Jones’ dilapidated motel room, Jenni Becker’s shadowy lighting and Will Mikes’ sounds of crickets and gunfire are backdrop for Andy Hayworth’s physically active, often humorous direction. The play’s darker underbelly goes relatively unexplored but this version effectively puts across the script’s quirks and surprises.
As Eddie, Ryan Ladue gives a breakout performance, making the most of the character’s charm, bravado, menace and passion. His extended drunk scene toying with Martin is the show’s highlight. Diana Cameron McQueen’s May has energy and determination, but, at Thursday’s opening, the character’s vulnerability and weariness weren’t yet fully established.
J. Mardrice Henderson gives Martin an amusing confusion about just what he’s been drawn into, while Joe Christian supplies the old man with prickly mood and crusty demeanor.
Thursday’s opening had some rough staging and technical moments that should smooth out after a few performances. The opportunity to see one of Shepard’s best works makes the production easily recommended.
What: “Fool For Love,” presented by McQueen & Company
Where: Research Triangle High School, 3106 NC-54, Durham
When: 8 p.m. June 9-10, 15-17, 22-24; 3 p.m. June 11, 18, 25
Tickets: $20 (seniors/military $15; students $10)
Info: 347-566-0151 or mcqueenandcompany.com