“You do nothing but repeat yourself”
And so the Found111 experiment comes to an end with this final production in the upper reaches of the former Central St Martins space. Emily Dobbs Productions has put together quite the programme of plays over the last year or so (The Dazzle, Bug, Unfaithful) with some astute casting decisions (Andrew Scott, James Norton, Matthew Lewis) bringing the buzz to the venue from the off. It’s not been unproblematic – its lack of access for one – but one of its issues has now been addressed with the introduction of allocated seating for the final play of this season.
That play is Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love and once again the casting has a hook to it, this time reuniting Ripper Street Series 3 couple Adam Rothenberg (making his London stage debut) and Lydia Wilson as ill-fated lovers Eddie and May. He’s tracked her down to the motel room in the Mojave desert to where she’s escaped and he’s determined to whisk her back to life in Wyoming. But as they squabble and fight, we see that this is a dance that’s been played out before, their’s is the kind of love you can’t live with or without, they just keep on coming back for more.
Simon Evans’ production makes the most of the physicality of their interactions, whether slamming bodies into bedframes or doors into the shaky walls of the motel, their torment inescapable. And watching over them is the lanky cowboy figure of Joe McGann’s Old Man, an imaginary figure who appears to them both and whose relationship to them speaks much to the toxicity, and indeed endurability, of their love. McGann revels in the lyricism of Shepard’s writing here, its exploration of this strange family dynamic in all its tragic depth.
But even at just over an hour, the play takes its time to wind up to its brutally effective climax. Ben Stones’ set looks good but is far too subject to awkward sightlines; Elliot Griggs’ hauntingly effective lighting was made to flood this space though, creating some stunning tableaux. Rothenberg and Wilson share compelling and spiky chemistry, and there’s good work from Luke Neal as May’s current beau, but I found Fool For You an easier play to like than love.