Heavenly 'Figaro'; classy Judy; comic Cleo; dangerous 'Fool'

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'Fool for Love' - the binds that tie In ''Fool for Love'' (at the Trinity Square Repertory Company), playwright Sam Shepard choreographs a brutal, sometimes funny dance between a couple linked by certain lust, possible blood, and a surely snarled history. They yank each other around, and the momentum throws them right back in each other's arms. Their dependence exhausts them - and the audience.

May (Deirdre O'Connell) is trying to cut the ties to the constantly unfaithful man, Eddie (Richard Jenkins), with whom she's been involved since high school. He has tracked her down in a seedy motel room and wants to bring her back. Over and over she drives him away with her blistering showers of bile, only to call him back. His reluctant but predictable returns become a sadly funny refrain.

Something mysterious is gluing these two victims together, and the secret that explodes in this sickly green motel room is compelling. It's not pretty to watch. Eddie reeks with menace, and May fights dirty.

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Their conflicting stories suggest they may be half brother and half sister - continuing the patterns of infidelity and chasing their parents began. They're never far from their parents' legacy - the Old Man supposed to be their father (Paul Haggard) sits in a rocking chair at the edge of the set, swilling liquor and commenting on the action. They can hear him, but he's invisible to the yokel (Tom Bloom) who is drawn into their fray when he arrives to take May out for a date. An unseen girlfriend of Eddie's completes the picture by tracking him down at the fiery, freeing denouement.

Shepard writes often about fiercely individualistic Western men who are at a loss in an increasingly urban world. Here, Eddie doesn't gallop after his girl on his horse; he hauls the horse in a trailer 2,000 miles to see her. What corrals him, however, is less the urbanization than his feeling for May.

Jenkins and O'Connell do fine work as this doomed couple on a short tether. Director David Wheeler provides frequent touches of comic relief (at one point Eddie practices lassoing her bedframe), but the production operates at a steady shout.

It's a raw, disturbing play about obsession - not love. What, ultimately, have they learned? And what do they teach us? That the chains of all-consuming sexuality throttle openness and trust, and destroy hope for a progressive life? It's an obvious lesson - but one pays a high price to learn it.

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