★★★ | Fool For Love, Found 111
This revival of Sam Shepherd’s 1983 drama marks the end of Found 111, the intimate Charing Cross Road performance space. Housed in the old St Martin’s College building next to Foyle’s, this odd little space has seen some triumphant plays in the past year. We’ve had Andrew Scott as one of a pair of reclusive brothers burying themselves in their own hoard of junk in The Dazzle, James Norton delusional, semi-naked and sweaty in Bug and Matthew Lewis as a hot shirtless hustler (a long way from Harry Potter’s fellow student Neville Longbottom) in Unfaithful.
Fool for Love is a claustrophobic play, suited to the closed, low-ceilinged space and seems a fine choice. Stuntman Eddie and his lover May are acting out the death throes of an on/off relationship in a motel room on the edge of the desert, overlooked by a brooding cowboy. The dialogue is terse as they parry and pace around each other and there are more slamming doors than in a house full of truculent teenagers. It’s a one-act play running at 70 minutes and whilst neither the plot nor theme enthral, the language frequently does.
Eddie is played to brooding perfection by Ripper Street star Adam Rothenberg. He’s a strutting piece of sexually enthralling, bruised masculinity. His angular face pouts and he cheekily arches eyebrows. He’s also very easy on the eye and is a constant visual draw whenever he’s on stage. Equally strong is Lydia Wilson as May, convincingly showing us a character on the edge, veering between rage and even more rage. The problem is in the chemistry between them. For some reason, it doesn’t entirely work. However strong they are individually, there’s something lacking between them as a pair of long-term lovers. The space doesn’t help. The back of the theatre is opened up into a more expansive space and the atmosphere of an oppressive motel room that was achieved in ‘Bug” doesn’t quite come across here, however, much smoke they pump in.
Found 111 isn’t going out with a bang (apart from the slamming doors) but nor is it a whimper. This play lies somewhere in between the two. It’s well worth seeing, especially if you’re planning to see Ed Harris in Buried Child at Trafalgar Studios. It fits neatly into the cannon of Shepherd’s work and provides interesting background. Also worth paying cash for is the sight of Adam Rothenberg. Thankfully, the production team are planning on resurfacing in similar quirky spaces that bring theatre away from the proscenium arch and into your lap. Watch this space.
Fool For Love plays at Found 111 until the 17th December
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Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He’s usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.