Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Trapped in the cycle of a mutually destructive relationship, Eddie (Jered McLenigan) and May (Julianna Zinkel) reunite in a shabby hotel room on the edge of the Mojave Desert. At first the nature of their volatile romance is obscure. Details of their sordid past are revealed while the star-crossed pair talk, threaten, plead, taunt and embrace.
There is an intense and authentic connection between McLenigan and Zinkel that is captivating, but McLenigan lacks the dangerous edge and ample charm the role requires. Without the sense that Eddie may have a violent outburst at any moment, Fool for Love feels a bit flat. If Eddie does not radiate confidence and machismo it is hard to understand how he controls the people around him. When guileless Martin (Steven Wright) shows up to take May to the movies, Eddie should be charismatic enough to distract him from their plan.
The last character in the quartet is an Old Man (Joe Canuso) in the corner of the room (or is he?) strumming a guitar. Canuso delivers a few one-liners with a deliciously wry sense of humor, but his presence ends up feeling like a distraction. The Old Man is crammed in too close to the action, which eliminates an important sense of ambiguity regarding his presence in the room. Canuso is not a musician and his attempts to play the guitar onstage are jarring.
Chris Sannino's sound design is excellent, but Tim Martin's lighting makes the hotel room feel too comfortable. I wanted to experience more of the oppressive light and heat radiating from the desert sun. The set design by Chris Bratek makes good use of the tight space, but again the corner where the Old Man is sitting is awkwardly distinguished from the rest of the room.
EgoPo's Fool for Love is worth seeing for Shepard's intriguing script and for the chemistry between McLenigan and Zinkel. It's an enjoyable evening of theater, but could certainly be more. Let's hope their last production of the season, Curse of the Starving Class, reaches closer to its full potential.
Fool for Love runs through February 23, 2020, at EgoPo Classic Theater, The Latvian Society Theater, 531 N. 7th Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, please visit www.egopo.org or call 267-273-1414.