Set in a desolate motel room on the edge of the Mojave Desert, Fool for Love displays an alternately tender and violent love-hate relationship. Unlike the struggle between two brothers in the playwright’s True West (1980), the conflict in Fool for Love is between a woman and a man. After a long absence, Eddie has traveled 2,480 miles to reclaim May, his lover since high school. At different times during their abrupt reunion she alternately orders him to leave and begs him to stay.
Eddie boasts spurs, bucking strap, and all the other trappings of a rodeo cowboy, but his quest for glory in that arena has left him broken down and prematurely old. As if trying to hold on to his heroic Western identity, he practices roping the motel furniture. Eddie’s affair with a society woman who drives a huge, black Mercedes-Benz has subverted his role as rugged cowboy. Angered by his desertion, the woman burns his pickup truck and sets his horses loose. A decrepit man trying to salvage his dream, Eddie talks of moving to Wyoming, where he can grow vegetables. Even in this fantasy, however, his residence will be a trailer, suggesting the ephemeral fragility of his dream.
May has long been confined to a trailer and to the claustrophobic motel room (against whose walls she frequently beats her head). In Shepard’s first sustained development of a female character, she attempts to escape these symbolic traps and shape an identity...
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