The Play

(Comprehensive Guide to Drama)

Fool for Love is set in a “stark, low-rent motel room on the edge of the Mojave Desert.” A general clutter of female things can be seen through the bathroom door at far stage right. At far stage left, a small platform framed by black curtains holds an old maple rocking chair draped with an equally worn horse blanket. As the play begins, the lights fade to darkness. Merle Haggard’s song “Wake Up” is heard, its volume swelling as the lights rise.

As the lights come up, Eddie speaks first to May, attempting to mollify her, but it quickly becomes apparent that they are at a pause in a long argument of violently conflicting emotions. Eddie has come to take her back after an absence of some duration, having abandoned her to sit, as she puts it, “in a tin trailer for weeks on end with the wind ripping through it.” She accuses him of sexual infidelity during his absence and threatens to kill Eddie and his lover with two sharp knives, one for each of them, “so the blood doesn’t mix.” When Eddie tells her that he has “a piece of ground up in Wyoming,” she refuses to go. She has become a “regular citizen,” with a job as a short-order cook. She accuses him of attempting once again to sucker her “into some dumb little fantasy,” only to disappear. She refuses to let him spend the night, but when Eddie agrees to leave, she calls him back, kisses him tenderly, “then suddenly knees him in the groin with tremendous force.”

As Eddie lies on the floor, crumpled in pain, the lights come up on the Old Man, who has been sitting all along in the rocker. As the stage directions point out, “even though they might talk to him directly and acknowledge his physical presence,” the Old Man “exists only in the minds of May and Eddie.” When he speaks, he interjects a confusing element of incongruity into the play; he points to a nonexistent picture of singer Barbara Mandrell and informs Eddie that he is, as he puts it, “actually married to Barbara Mandrell in my mind.”

May reenters, preparing for a date. She changes onstage into a “sleek red dress,” transforming “her former tough drabness into a very sexy woman.” Eddie now betrays his own sexual jealousy; he exits suddenly and violently, slamming doors behind him, only to return with a shotgun. When she tells Eddie that he has “no right being jealous,” Eddie hints at something deeper and darker, a pact, a connection “decided long ago.” Thoroughly disturbed, she tells Eddie to leave; he exits, yet his departure only upsets her more.

The Old Man now speaks to May of her childhood and, in the process, reveals himself to be her father. May, however, does not listen. Too “involved with her emotion of loss,” she moves slowly around the room, pressing herself against the walls....

(The entire section is 1150 words.)