FOOL FOR LOVE, Circle Theatre. Sam Shepard's 1984 play could pass for a bad parody of his own earlier, better work. All the stock characters are here--the neglectful alcoholic father; the rootless, hard-bitten son; the overcivilized chump--as are Shepard's usual themes and situations (this play is set in a New Mexico motel). Still, the playwright can't seem to put all the elements together into a coherent whole. Instead there are lots of Shepard trademarks: wandering monologues, aimless reflections on a mythologized past, shocking revelations at the end of the play presumably meant to goose the sagging story. In Fool for Love Shepard has nothing to say and takes 90 minutes to say it.
Director Kristin Gehring has gathered a terrific cast, all of them capable of delivering the kind of intense, hyperrealistic performances Shepard's plays often require. Mary Claire Dunn and Josh Odor are particularly good as the violence-prone lovers. Sadly, their fine performances are for naught. The play is a bore from start to finish. Even the scene in which a truck blows up is boring. Peter Storms's melancholy sound design only heightens the play's soporific qualities.