Fool for Love (play)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Fool for Love (1983) is a play written by American playwright/actor Sam Shepard. Some critics consider the play part of a quintet which includes Shepard's Family Trilogy: Curse of the Starving Class (1976), Buried Child (1979), and True West (1980). The quintet concludes with Fool for Love and A Lie of the Mind (1985).[1]


The "fools" in the play are battling lovers at a Mojave Desert motel. May is hiding out at said motel when an old childhood friend and old flame, Eddie, shows up. Eddie tries to convince May to come back home with him and live in the trailer on the farm they always wanted to buy. May refuses because she has started a new life and knows that if she goes back to Eddie their relationship will repeat the same destructive cycle it has before. Throughout the play the character of the Old Man — the father of both lovers — is present and talks to each of the other two characters. It is revealed that the Old Man had led a double life, abandoning each family for different parts of each child's life. The two became lovers in their high school years and when their parents finally figured out what had occurred Eddie's mother shot herself. May is afraid that Eddie has begun to emulate his father; taking to drinking and secretly seeing a woman May refers to as the Countess. The play centers around the drama of the confrontation rather than a plot with a rising and falling action. In the end the two lovers have not reconciled, the Old Man begins to lose himself to his own delusions, and a stranger is left on stage to observe it all.

Production history[edit]

The original production, directed by Shepard, opened at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco on February 8, 1983 and starred Ed Harris and Kathy Baker. It had its New York City premiere at the Circle Repertory Theatre on May 26, 1983, with the same cast before later transferring to the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre. The production later featured Will Patton, Bruce Willis, Aidan Quinn, and Frances Fisher. Ellen Barkin was cast and rehearsed the role, but injured her arm before actually performing it. Moira Harris, wife of Gary Sinise, also performed the leading role.

The London production in 1984 starred Ian Charleson and Julie Walters. It premiered at the National Theatre, and moved to the Lyric Theatre in 1985.

The play was revived at the Apollo Theatre in London in 2006, with Martin Henderson and Juliette Lewis playing the lead roles in a production directed by Lindsay Posner.

The play was revived again at Riverside Studios in London in 2010, with Carl Barat and Sadie Frost in the lead roles

The play had its Massachusetts premiere at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Williamstown, MA on July 24, 2014. It starred Sam Rockwell as Eddie and 2012 Tony Award winner Nina Arianda as May.

Film adaptation[edit]

In the 1985 film version, Shepard himself took over the lead, with Kim Basinger as his female lead. The film was directed by Robert Altman.


  1. ^ Roudané, Matthew (2002). The Cambridge Companion to Sam Shepard. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521777667