September 14 - October 3, 1999,FOOL FOR LOVE opened at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey. The play was written by Sam Shepard and directed by Emily Mann. James Morrison played the part of Eddie and Laila Robins as May.
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The meeting between Eddie and May takes place in a motel room on the edge of the Mojave Desert. Eddie and May have had a relationship for many years, but Eddie would leave town for periods of time, possibly have an affair, then come back and expect to pick up where he left off. Now Eddie is back and wants May to leave town with him. May has other ideas.
Eddie is trying to convince May that he's back for good.
"I'm not goin' anywhere. I'm right here. You can't just sit around here
like this." May is sitting on the bed and won't look at him. When he offers
to go get something for her to eat, she grabs his leg with both arms and buries
her head in his knee. Eddie tries to comfort her and asks if he can fix her some
tea or Ovaltine. "You gotta' let go of me now," he says. He pulls back
the bed covers and gently pushes her back on the bed. May lashes out at him.
Eddie wants to know if she wants him to go. May shouts, "No!"
May tells him he smells, that he's been with a woman. Eddie replies, "I'm not gonna' start this shit." "You know it's true," May says. When he decides to leave she pleads with him not to go. Eddie doesn't know what to do and tells her so. May tells him her fears. "You're either gonna' erase me or have me erased." She tells him that she feels she’s in his way. "Don't be stupid," he replies
"I'm gonna' kill her, ya know," May states, referring to the "other woman." "Don't talk like that," Eddie says. She describes how she is going to take two separate knifes, one for the woman and one for him. "I'm gonna' torture her first, then you. I'm gonna' let you have it. Right in the moment when you're sure you've got me buffaloed."
Eddie is frustrated. "I drove two thousand, four hundred
and eighty miles, because I missed you. Kept thinkin' of you the whole time I
was driving. Kept seeing you. Sometimes just a part of you." "What
part?" "Your neck." "My neck?" "I missed all of
you but your neck kept coming up for some reason. I kept crying about your neck.
Weeping like a little baby. I couldn't stop. People would stare at me, my face
was all twisted up." "Was this before of after your little fling with
Eddie tries to convince her there was no affair. May calls him a liar. He finally admits that he took the Countess to dinner once or twice. "You’ve been bumping her on a regular basis! Don't give me that shit." Eddie tells her to think what she wants. "I'm takin' you back, May." But May says she won't go back to the trailer. "I'm movin' it. I got a piece of ground up in Wyoming." May says that she is not moving to Wyoming. She has a job as a cook and plans to stay where she's at. Eddie proceeds to comment on how "she couldn't flip an egg." May decides she doesn't want to talk to him anymore.
"May, I got everything worked out. I been thinkin' of this for weeks." Eddie says. He tells her his plans to build a little corral to keep the horses, have a vegetable garden and some chickens. "I hate chickens! I hate horses! I hate all that shit! It makes me puke to even think about it." May lashes back.
Eddie says she'll get used to it and promises to not let her down this time. He tells her he is going to stick with her no matter what. An argument entails and Eddie decides to get his things out of his truck. "Wait." May asks. They move toward each other and embrace. Joining in a long tender kiss, May breaks away and knees him in the groin with tremendous force. Eddie doubles over and drops to the floor. "You can take it, right?" She asks. "You're a stuntman." She leaves the room and goes into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.
An old man sitting in a rocking chair (this is a ghost of the father and played by Mark Hammer) has a bottle of whiskey in a brown paper bag sitting on the floor beside him. He picks it up, pours whiskey into a Styrofoam cup, and drinks. He tells Eddie he thought that he was a fantasist–someone one who dreams things up. Eddie says he doesn't know. The old man asks him to look at the picture on the wall (there is no picture). "Ya' see who that is?" "I'm not sure," Eddie replies. "Barbara Mandrell. You heard a' her?" "Sure." The old man asks Eddie if he would believe that he was married to her. "No." "Well see, now that's the difference right there. That's realism." He goes on to explain that he is married to Barbara Mandrell in his mind. He asks Eddie if he understands. "Sure," Eddie answers.
May comes out of the bathroom brushing her hair. She changes her clothes as she talks to Eddie. She doesn't understand her feelings, but her hatred for him is growing. All she can see in her mind is a picture of him with the Countess. "It cuts so deep I'll never get over it," she says. She tells him that she blames him more for the torture she feels than she does for what he did. Eddie again says he'd better go, May agrees. "I thought you wanted me to stay," May tells him that there is someone coming to get her. They’re going to the movies. This upsets Eddie and he wants to know who she is seeing. He moves violently toward her. "Don't you touch me!" May warns him. Eddie heads for the door again and goes out to his truck, returning with a 10-gauge shotgun and a bottle of Herradura tequila. May wants to know what he's going to do with the gun. "Clean it," he replies.
T. Charles Erickson
May questions Eddie if he had heard her about the man coming.
Eddie thinks it can't be too serious because May called him "a man".
He explains, "If you called him a "guy" I'd be worried about it
but since you call him a ‘man,’ you give yourself away. You put yourself
below him." Eddie goes on to say that this guy was probably a twerp, a punk
chump in a two-dollar suit. May states that anyone who doesn't half kill
themselves falling off of horses or jumping steers is a twerp in Eddie's book.
"We'll just wait for this ‘man’ to come over here. We'll just sit right
here and wait. Then I'll let you be the judge." Eddie says that she can
introduce them. "I am definitely not introducing you. He'd be very
embarrassed to find me here with somebody else."
Eddie starts teasing her about this guy being embarrassed. May says, "You can't keep messing me around like this. It's been too long. I get sick every time you come around. Then I get sick when you leave. You're like a disease to me." "We've got a pact." Eddie reminds her. She tells him that there is nothing between them now. Eddie wants to know why she's so excited then. May says he's driving her crazy. "You know we're connected, May. We'll always be connected. That was decided a long time ago. You know what happened." "Nothing happened."
After arguing back and forth, May tells Eddie that it would be the same thing over and over again. "We'll be together for a while and then you'll be gone." May wants him to leave. "You'll never replace me and you know it." "Get outa' here!" May screams. Eddie picks up the pieces to the shotgun and looks at it. May moves toward him, but stops when he looks up and she sees the expression on his face. "You're a traitor." He says. He turns and walks out the door. May mournfully calls after him. "EDDIE!" She sinks to the floor as she weeps.
The old man appears and relates to her something that happened in the past when she was just a small child. They were driving through the southern part of Utah. They had been driving all night and her mother had fallen asleep in the front seat. All of a sudden May started screaming. They thought she had a nightmare. Her mother climbed over the seat and tried to comfort her, but she wouldn't stop screaming. So, he stopped the car in the middle of nowhere and picked her up and began to walk with her. It was pitch black and he had no idea where they were. "Then, all of a sudden, I saw somethin' move out there. Somethin' bigger than both of us. And then it started to get joined up with some other things just like it. These things started to kinda' move in on us from all directions. I couldn't see the car anymore so I called out to your mother. She yelled back to me. And just then these things started to "moo." They all started "mooing" away. It turns out we were standin' smack in the middle of a herd of cattle. Well, you never heard a baby pipe down so fast in your life. You never made a peep after that. The whole rest of the trip."
May hears Eddie making his way back up to the door.. She leaps
to her feet and sits down at the small table in the room. She takes a drink from
the bottle, leans back in the chair as though she's been sitting like that since
he left the room. Eddie comes in, slamming the door behind him. They both ignore
each other. He throws a bag on the bed and opens it up and takes out a well-worn
steer rope. He builds a loop and starts roping the bedposts one at a time never
missing. When she asks him what he's doing, he says he has to keep in practice.
May wants to know why he hasn't left. She thought he was leaving. Eddie
continues his roping. "It occurred to me out in the parking lot that there
probably isn't any man comin' over here at all. You just made it up." May
wants to know why he thinks that. Eddie tells her to get even with him.
"I'll never get even with you," she replies.
Eddie picks the bottle up from the table and takes a drink. "So, now we're gonna' get real mean and sloppy, is that it? Just like old times?" May asks. Eddie lets her know that he hasn't dropped his reins in quite a while. "I've been real good. No hooch. No slammer. No women. No nothin'. I been a pretty boring kind of guy actually."
"I hope this guy comes over. I really hope he does. I want to see him walk through that door." "What do you plan to do?" May asks. "I'm gonna' nail his ass to the floor." May decides she's not going to stay around for things to happen. But, Eddie grabs her and tells her he promises to be real nice. She could introduce him as her brother. Thinking better of that he changes it to her cousin. May tells him that she is going outside to the pay phone across the street and tell him to forget about the whole thing. "Good, I'll pack your stuff while you're gone." May insists again that she's not going with him.
Headlights through the motel window light up the room. Eddie, thinking it's May's date, tells her to just run out there and throw her arms around him "or somethin’." He removes some spurs from the bag on the bed and starts to put them on his boots. "What're you doing?" "Puttin' my hooks on, Sweetheart, I wanna' look good for this "man. I'm yer cousin after all." May begs Eddie not to hurt him. "He's just a date, you know." "Yeah? Well I'm gonna' turn him into a fig." Thinking he said something funny, Eddie falls to the floor in laughter.
May goes to the door and opens it. She stands in the doorway, staring out. Eddie stops laughing. "What're you doing?" May says it's not her date that it's a huge black Mercedes Benz, an extra-long Mercedes Benz. Eddie tells her to get out of the doorway. May wants to know who it is and did he bring "that woman" with him. Eddie warns her to get out of the doorway and get down on the floor. He turns off the light in the room. He pulls May to the floor, but she fights him. Outside the person in the car is holding down the horn. May struggles to get up. "I'm not gonna' lay here on my back with you on top of me and get shot by some dumb rich twat.." Suddenly the horn stops and the car headlights are turned off. There’s the sound of broken glass, then the sound of tires burning rubber as the car drives off.
Eddie tells May to stay put while he checks outside. He goes to the window and peeks out. "Shit, she's blown the windshield outa' my truck." May gets up and turns on the light, which Eddie promptly turns back off. He warns May that she'll be back. They need to get out of there. "I'm not leaving! This is your mess, not mine." "I came here to get you!" Eddie says. "Whatsa' matter with you! Do you think I'd do that if I didn't love you! Huh? That bitch doesn't mean anything to me! I got no reason to be here but you!"
The old man appears and states that neither one of them look familiar to him. He doesn’t recognize himself in either of them and never did. "Course your mothers both put their stamp on ya. That's plain to see. But my whole side a' the issue is absent, in my opinion." He goes on to tell them that he was glad he got out of the mess when he did and it was the best thing he had ever done.
Eddie tells May that he's not leaving. He doesn't care what she thinks anymore. He's staying right there. He doesn't care if a hundred "dates" walk through the door, he'll take them on. "I don't care if you hate my guts. I don't care if you can't stand the sight of me or the sound of me or the smell of me. I'm never leavin'. You'll never get rid of me. I'll track you down no matter where you go." May tells him he has to give this up. She doesn't understand what's in his head anymore. He'd been jerking her around for fifteen years like a yo-yo. She'd never been two ways about him. "I've either loved you or not loved you. And now I just plain don't love you. I don't love you. I don't need you. I don't want you. Do you understand that?"
Headlights once again slash through the window. Eddie turns off the light and orders May to go into the bathroom. "I'm not going into the bathroom. I' m gonna' go out there and tear her damn head off. I'm gonna' wipe her out!" She moved toward the door but Eddie stops her. As they are struggling, May is screaming, "Come on in here and bring your dumb gun! Bring all your weapons and your silly skinny self. I'll eat you alive!"
Suddenly the door flies open and Martin, May’s date, (played
by Glenn Fleshler) bursts into the room. He tackles Eddie around the waist and
the two of them crash into the bathroom door. May flips on the light. Martin is
standing over Eddie who is crumpled on the floor. Martin is about to smash Eddie
in the face when May stops him. She tells Martin that everything is okay, that
they were just having an argument. Martin says that when he heard her scream and
the lights went out, he thought someone was hurting her.
May introduces Eddie to Martin as her cousin. Eddie in turns tells Martin that she's lying. May offers Martin a drink to change the subject, which he accepts. Eddie, still sitting on the floor says, "She's lying through her teeth." Stepping over Eddie, May heads into the bathroom where she keeps the glasses. When she returns she speaks to Martin, "I was starting to think you weren't going to show up." "I had to water the football field down at the High School. Forgot about it."
Eddie starts bantering back and forth with Martin. He wanted to know how far he had to drive. When Martin tells him a couple of miles, Eddie asks him if he wants to know how many miles he had come. May tells Martin that they had a few drinks and she offers him the glass of tequila. Eddie speaks up and says that it's his tequila but he didn't care if Martin drank it. He asks Martin, "What kinda' people do you hail from?" "Uh--I don't know, I was adopted." "You must have a lota' problems then, huh?" "Well, not really." "No? You orphans are suppose to steal a lot aren't ya? Shoplifting and stuff? You're also suppose to be the main group responsible for bumping off our President." "I never heard that." "You oughta' read the paper, Martin."
Martin apologizes for attacking Eddie, he thought May was in trouble. Eddie explains that May is in trouble. Martin asks her what's wrong. When she answers "nothing," he asks why the lights were turned off. May says they were just about ready to go, but were coming right back. "No, no, no. That's not what we were gonna' do." Eddie says as he asks Martin to hand him the bottle. "We were actually having an argument about you. It got so heated up we had to turn the lights off." Martin asks what the argument was about and Eddie tells him that it was whether or not he was a man. Eddie explained the subject of a "man" as opposed to a "guy" and says May called him a "man."
May, having had enough, suggests to Martin that they go to the movies. She heads for the bathroom, steps over Eddie, and slams the door. "I didn't mean to make her mad," Martin says. Eddie asks him what movie they are going to see. Martin doesn't know what May likes. Eddie explains that the man picks the movie. Martin doesn't want to take her to something she doesn't like. "The reason you're taking her out to the movies is because you just want to be with her. Right? I mean you could just about take her anywhere." Martin agrees with that statement. Eddie suggests that they could even stay at the motel. But Martin doesn't know what they would do at the motel. "Tell stories," Eddie says. "I don't know any stories." "Make 'em up." "That'd be lying wouldn't it?" Eddie explains to him that lying is when you believe it's true. If you already know it's a lie then it's not lying. Martin asks Eddie if he wants a hand up off the floor. Eddie says he likes it down there. He goes into a long speech on how there is less tension down there. Martin's job in yard work and maintenance puts him on his knees a lot and he agrees with Eddie that the tension is less than when standing. "I've always noticed how much more relaxed I get when I'm down low to the ground like that." Eddie tells him to get down on his hands and knees right now if he’d like to. But Martin says he'll stand.
Martin questions Eddie on being May's cousin. "See now, right there. Askin' me if I'm her cousin. That's because you're tense you're askin' me that. You already know I'm not her cousin." Martin reminds him that May said he was her cousin. Eddie tells him that May lied. Martin then asks Eddie what he is to her then. "Now you're really getting' tense, huh?"
Martin thinks he should go and moves toward the door, but Eddie stops him. "You'll just get all blue and lonely out there in the black night." Eddie puts his arm around Martin's shoulders and leads him back to the table. Martin wonders if May is okay in the bathroom. Eddie tells him, she's okay just likes to take her time. Martin asks to what's wrong with her. Eddie says that she’s just in shock because they hadn't seen each other for a long time. They went back a long ways--from High School. Martin wants to know if Eddie is May's husband. "No. She's my sister. My half-sister." Martin states that they must have known each other before High School then. "No, see, I never knew I had a sister until it was too late. By the time I found out it was too late." "How do you mean?" "Well, by the time I found out we'd already. you know. fooled around." "That's illegal isn't it?" Eddie told him everyone fooled around in High School. "I never did, said Martin. He asks Eddie how something like this could happen. Eddie explains that his dad loved two women. One was his mother and the other was May's. His dad led two separate lives so they didn't know they were related. "He'd live with my mother for a while and then disappear and go live with May’s mother for a while." He told Martin that neither woman knew about the other. "How did you find out that she was your sister?" Eddie told him how his father would disappear and re-appear for years. Then, suddenly, one day it just stopped. He just stayed in the house, sat in his chair just staring. Then he started going on long walks. All day, then he'd walk all night." "Where was he going?" "Just walking."
The old man speaks up, "I was making a decision."
Eddie continued, "One night he let me go with him. We were completely silent the whole time we walked. We could barely see a foot in front of us, it was so dark. These white owls kept swooping down out of nowhere, hunting for jack rabbits. Diving right pass our heads then disappearing. We walked silent like that until we got to town. We stopped at a liquor store and he made me wait in the parking lot while he bought a bottle. There were all these Mexican migrant works standing around a pick-up truck drinking beer and laughing. I remember being jealous of them and I didn't know why. I remember seeing the old man through the glass door of the liquor store as he paid for his bottle. I remember feeling sorry for him and I didn't know why. We walked right through town and he offered me a drink before he drank himself. We walked up to a white house with a red awning, on the far side of town. He rang the bell and I remember getting real nervous because I wasn't expecting to visit anybody. This pretty woman with red hair answered the door. She throws herself in his arms and he starts crying. She's kissing him all over the face. Then through the doorway, behind them both, I see this girl. She's just standing there, staring at me and I'm staring back. It was like we knew each other from somewhere but we couldn't place where. But the second we saw each other, that very second, we knew we'd never stop being in love."
May comes out of the bathroom and scolds Eddie for telling Martin a story like that. Martin didn’t know him from Adam. "None of it's true," she tells Martin. "He's has this weird, sick idea for years now and it's totally made up. I don't know where he got it from. He's nuts." Eddie tells Martin that May is just embarrassed about the whole thing. Martin didn't know May was listening to them talking. She says she heard every word and Eddie has told that story a thousand times and it always changes.
Martin states again that maybe he should leave. Once more Eddie asks him to stay. He wants to know if that story sounded make-up to him. Martin told him, he thought it sounded real while Eddie was telling it, but he wasn't sure. Eddie questions his doubts and says "May is lying." May wants to go to the show but when Martin gets up from the table, Eddie orders him to sit back down, which he does. "You want to hear the rest of the story don't ya', Martin?" May pleads to go, but Eddie pushes on. "Nobody's going to the movies. I'm gonna' finish this story." He asks Martin if he'd like to hear the rest, which he replies, "he thought so." "What do you think this is going to do? Do you think it's going to change something?" May asks Eddie. "No."
After May and Eddie bickering back-and-forth, May finally asks, "You want me to finish the story for you, Eddie, huh?" She proceeds to tell Martin that it was her mother in the white house with the red awning. That her mother was obsessed with her father to the point where she couldn't be without him for a second. Her mother would keep hunting for him from town to town. He had never left her mother a phone number or an address because her mother was his secret. "She hounded him for years and he kept trying to keep her at a distance because the closer these two separate women, these two separate kids, the closer these two separate lives drew together, the more nervous he got. "I remember the day we discovered the town he was in.. We walked all day through this stupid hick town. We went through every neighborhood, peering through every open window until we finally found him. We could hear voices but we couldn't make out what they were saying. Eddie and his mother were talking but the old man just sat there eating his chicken in silence."
May then related that almost as soon as they had found her father he disappeared again. Her mother had been with him only two weeks before he vanished. No one saw him after that. She watched her mother grieve. "She'd pull herself up into a ball and just stare at the floor. I'd come home after being with Eddie and I was filled with this joy and there she'd be--standing in the middle of the kitchen staring at the sink. I didn't even feel sorry for her. All I could think of was him." She went on to tell Martin how Eddie and her couldn't eat if they weren't together. They couldn't take a breath without thinking of each other. They got sick at night when they were apart. She said her mother even took her to a doctor. He thought it might be the flu or something, but her mother figured what was wrong. Her mother recognized every symptom. She begged her not to see Eddie again, but she wouldn't listen. She even asked Eddie to stop seeing her, but he wouldn't. She went to Eddie's mother and begged her. But Eddie's mother, May looked at Eddie, "Eddie's mother blew her brains out. Didn't she Eddie? Blew her brains right out."
The old man becomes very upset. He doesn't like what he's hearing and wonders where the hell that story came from. "She never blew her brains out. Nobody told me that. Stand up," he orders Eddie. "Speak on my behalf. Tell her the way it happened. We've got a pact. Don't forget that."
Eddie looks at the ghost of his father and tells him that it was his shotgun used. The same one he used to duck hunt with. He told him his mother had never fired a gun before in her life. That was the first time.
The old man tells Eddie he was gone. Nobody told him what happened. They could of found him if they wanted to. The old man faces May, but May and Eddie are staring at each other. Once their eyes met they never leave each other's gaze. The old man continued, this time talking to May. "Your mother just wouldn't give up. She went out of her way to draw me in. I told her from the start that I’d never come across for her, but she wouldn't listen. She kept opening up her heart to me. How could I turn her down when she loved me like that?"
The old man turns back to Eddie. "What're you doin'? Bring her around to your side. You gotta' make her see this thing in a clear light."
Eddie and May come together in a tender embrace.
"Keep away from her! You two can’t come together! You can't betray me! You gotta' represent me now! You're my son!" the old man cries.
Headlights arc across the window then disappear. There is a loud collision, shattering glass and an explosion. Bright orange and blue light of a gasoline fire illuminates the window. The sounds of horses screaming fill the night air and the echo of hooves galloping on pavement, fading--then total silence. Eddie and May continue to embrace through the whole incident.
Martin finally walks over to the window and looks out. He asked Eddie if that's his truck with horses out there. Eddie replies, "Yeah." Martin tells him that the truck is on fire and all of the horses are loose. "Yeah, I figured," Eddie says. He finally pulls away from May. She speaks his name, "Eddie."
Eddie tells May he has to go look. "I can't just let her get away with that. I'll just be a second." Once again May says his name. "Eddie." "I'm only gonna' be a second. I'll just take a look at it and come right back."
Eddie leaves and May stares at the door for a moment. She goes to the bed and pulls a suitcase out from underneath it. She starts tossing her clothes in the opened suitcase. Martin says, "May? Do you need some help or anything? I got a car. I could drive you somewhere if you want." Martin then asks her if she is going with Eddie. "He's gone," May answers. "He said he'd be back in a second." "He's gone," May repeats. Synopsis from play by Sam Shepard.
"McCarter director Emily Mann has
recruited a top-notch cast, with Laila Robins and James Morrison exciting and
convincing in the leading roles, and Mark Hammer (the Old Man) and Glenn
Fleshler (Martin) providing strong support - all seasoned stars of regional and
New York theatre and of film and television." Town Topics
"James Morrison makes believable the type of clueless guy who goes away for weeks and expects his lady to be satisfied because he first bought her a slew of magazines. Morrison has the right old-before-his-time quality and the vestiges of masculine swagger needed for Eddie, who sure enjoys sitting with his legs wide apart." Peter Filichia, Star-Ledger Staff
"All the realism and ritualistic machismo one could want is present in lanky and dirty James Morrison's Eddie, the smelly primitive stunt man who breaks through the barriers of fact and fiction. Always present in Morrison's performance is the feral force that keeps him bouncing off the walls." US 1 Newspaper
"James Morrison is splendid in this difficult role, adroitly embodying not just the character’s swagger and jealousy, but his considerable tenderness as well. Laila Robins is equally fine as the mercurial May, so conflicted about Eddie that it’s no surprise to see her follow a passionate kiss with a vicious kick to the groin. Her desperate desire to be rid of Eddie is painfully apparent, but so is her desperation at the prospect of that happening." Clifford A. Ridley, Philadelphia Inquirer Theater Critic.
"Emily Mann's direction is stunning and the acting is at the highest level. James Morrison (Eddie) and Laila Robins (May) are mesmerizing together, oozing sex from open pores, animal in their movements. This is not to everyone's taste. It's a strange choice with which to open the season, but it is first-rate theater." Stuart Duncan, Princeton Packet Theater Critic.
Click Here for a James Morrison interview about Fool For Love