Part of a season devoted to Desire and Destruction, Love and Madness’ production of Sam Shepard’s 1983 drama sometimes has the feel of a classical musician attempting jazz, getting all the notes right but somehow missing the music.
Sadie Frost and Carl Barat in Fool for Love at Riverside Studios Photo: Luke Varley
Shepard’s portrait of a couple who can’t live with or without each other is a study in obsession and uncontrollable passions that have the pair literally bouncing off the walls. But while director Neil Sheppeck has guided Sadie Frost to some indications of her character’s raw nerves and desperation, he allows Carl Barat to play his character far too laid-back, distanced from his emotions rather than overwhelmed by them. So we never get the sense that this small motel room on the edge of the desert is in danger of exploding from the uncontrollable energy within.
Barat’s controlled presentation does well serve the last section of the play, in which he quietly tells the story of the background to their passions, but this then forces Frost to abruptly change her mode to a more subdued one as she picks up the tale, further lowering the few suggestions of emotional intensity she had brought to the play.
The ghostly father who haunts the edges of the play commenting on the action ought to provide a counterpoint to the passions at the centre, but while Gerard McDermott does create a quietly believable character, he has little to bounce off or contrast with, although director Sheppeck does hit just the right note of amiable blandness as the innocent nice guy caught up in the story.