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February 11, 2016

UMass theater department delivers a hit with “Fools for Love”

Amanda Joinson/Collegian File Photo

A woman sits on a bed staring into nothingness. Across the room, a man sits in a chair off to the right, elbows on his knees, staring at her. The woman, May, is a small-framed brunette with big brown eyes. The man is Eddie, a tall dark haired country boy dressed in a plaid shirt and faded jeans.

Written by Sam Shepard in 1984 and directed by University of Massachusetts student Gracie Baker, “Fool for Love” is a play full of intense acting, moving dialogue and thrilling plot twists. Taking place in a tiny motel room, May, played by UMass theater student Corinne Huschle, and Eddie, played by Daniel Cuff, also a UMass theater student, are exactly what the title infers: fools for love. As they fight nearly to the death about their love, their history unravels before the audience’s eyes and the age old saying is proven true once again: Love will always prevail … but not without complication.

The set, a compact, dimly lit room, is small and simple. There are two doors on either side with a full-sized bed in the center. The curtains are drawn. It’s an intimate setting and the audience is not but two feet from the stage.

The scene opens with an intense silence. There is a small monologue performed by Eddie and then, suddenly, the audience is whipped into a whirlwind of passionate tightening emotion.

The play’s cast performs nothing short of perfection. Huschle delivers each and every line with vicious fire, making the audience feel every single bit of the hurt her unfaithful lover has caused her. Cuff reciprocates the tension with wonderful intensity in his defensive dialogue. Together the two create a more than realistic portrayal of a couple in turmoil.

The intensity of May and Eddie’s fighting is perfectly balanced with comic relief when Martin, played by Tom Kelsey, enters the scene. Taking on the role of May’s date for the night, Martin, a clean-cut, lighthearted British fellow, eases the audience’s angst with his innocence. In the midst of screaming, Martin’s short one-line responses allow for just the right amount of laughter and relief before the scene’s aggression heats back up.

Off to the side of the stage is another man. For most of the show, “The Old Man,” played but Joe Cattoggio, remains quiet, only narrating an action here and there. However, even the quietest of characters have their moments of outbursts. It is not till the end that the old man’s role is truly revealed, and when it is, the play is changed entirely.

For anyone who has ever been in a relationship, especially one with an unfaithful partner, “Fool For Love” is like watching a replay of past life events. It captures the audience from the first second. From that awkward calm before the storm every couple experiences before a big argument, to the moment of revelation when one leaps into the arms of the one they love, swearing to never hurt them again, “Fool For Love” is truly a relatable story for everyone.

Even so, being relatable does not stop this phenomenal play from being unpredictable. Beginning as what seems to be a classic love story of betrayal and reconciliation, the audience is astounded when surprising elements weave their way into the plot line, suddenly turning this love story from classic to controversial.

A short play in comparison to most, “Fool For Love” makes the most of its time on the stage. From the first second, the play twists and turns the audience in every direction possible. Every emotion plays a role -from anger to fear, happiness to despair- yet all are blended beautifully into the intricate theme.

With brilliant acting and an intimate setting, “Fool For Love” forces the audience to leave their realities behind and enter the complicated world of Eddie and May. From the lifelike sound effects to the largely talented cast, the play is nothing short of entertaining and enraptures its audience, leaving them completely breathless, with jaws dropped.

Jessica Troland can be reached at jtroland@student.umass.edu

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