Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


Fool for Love
Shelton Theater
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's recent reviews of The Call, Nikita Burshteyn: Livin' Nikita Loca, and Stories by Emma Donoghue and Colm Tóibín


Byron Haigh and Sonia Balcazar
Photo Courtesy of Shelton Theater
Shelton Theater is currently presenting the 1983 one-hour drama Fool for Love by Sam Shepard. This play premiere in 1984 at the Magic Theatre here in San Francisco when Sam Shepard was in residence. It was also a finalist for the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. I saw a production in the 1980s at the London National Theatre with Ian Charleson and Julie Walters.

I think Nelson Pressley of the Washington Post describes Fool for Love as: "vintage Sam Shepard desperation-at-the-edge-of-the-desert look" with a "twisted cowboy romance." I could not have said it better.

Fool for Love is a surreal drama that is part fable, part romance, and part western. The plot centers on May (Sonia Balcazar), who has fled to a spare motel room in the Mojave Desert from a longtime romance with Eddie (Byron Haigh), a rodeo stuntman. Eddie has followed her, hoping to spirit her away to a plot of land in Wyoming. However, she is not interested in Wyoming since she now has a new boyfriend and a new life. She says, "I hate chickens! I hate horses ! I hate all that shit!." She knows that Eddie would eventually desert her, just as he did so many times before. She doesn't want him to leave the room because she still has the hots for him.

They are observed by an older man (Christopher Upham), seated on a porch chair who watches this amorous pas de deux while remaining just outside of it. We learn from the old man that May and Eddie were high school sweethearts, and some other secrets. Needless to say, this couple is bad for each other and they probably have fought this bout before in other cities and other motels. They will probably do it again in other motels.

Byron Haigh gives an excellent performance as the machismo Eddie while Sonia Balcazar is wonderful in her role as May. They kiss and punch and slam each other against walls and doors throughout the hour. They most certainly give explosive performances. Christopher Upham is outstanding as the Old Man who comments periodically on the action. Rounding out the cast is Matt Crawford as the boyfriend Martin. He has little to do in this production but what he does is first rate.

The stage directions specify that the play be performed "relentlessly, without a break" and Haigh and Balcazar hit all the right marks, thanks to director Matt Shelton.

Fool for Love plays through March 26th, 2016, at the Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco. For tickets go to www.sheltontheater.org.


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