Sam Shepard’s play Fool for Love
shows a single interaction between half-siblings and former lovers, May and Eddie. In front of the actors sits the "Old Man," who represents May and Eddie's father and exists only in their minds. The play premiered at Magic Theatre in San Francisco in 1983.
The entire play takes place in May's room at a low-rent hotel. Eddie is trying to convince May that he is going to stay with her and that he is not going to leave her. She doesn't want him to go, but it is clear she is upset with him. She tells him his hands smell like pussy and she doesn't need him. She says she will kill him and his lover.
Eddie tells May he drove a long way to see her. He has missed her. May accuses him of having a fling with the Countess, which Eddie denies. He concedes that he did take her to dinner once. He begs for May back and asks her to go with him to Wyoming to live in his trailer with him. May is not keen on the idea. She is confident he will leave her again. Eddie begins heading out to his car to get his things for the night, and May knees him in the groin. She says he can take it because he is a stuntman.
The Old Man begins speaking to Eddie. He tells him to look at a picture of Barbara Mandrell on the wall. The Old Man says he is married to Barbara.
May begins changing into nicer clothes as she talks. She reveals that she is getting ready for a date. Angry, Eddie leaves, slamming the door shut. While he is away, May hurriedly begins packing a suitcase and then stuffs it under the bed before Eddie enters again. Eddie now has tequila and a shotgun.
Eddie rattles on about how May's date is probably a twerp, and May says that Eddie drives her crazy and is like a disease. The two refer to an incident that "connected" them, but May denies that anything happened. She tells Eddie to leave, and he does. May begins weeping.
The Old Man begins to speak again. He says that he, May, and her mother were driving in Southern Utah when a nightmare woke May up in the back seat. She wouldn't stop crying, and the Old Man pulled over and took her out into a field. There, dark shapes surrounded them. They were cows.
May hears Eddie coming back and straightens up. Eddie has brought a rope. He threatens her date, but when she goes to leave, he says he will be civil. She tries to call to cancel her date; Eddie says he'll pack her things. She reminds him she will not be going with him.
Someone arrives outside. It is a lover of Eddie's, possibly the Countess. The two hide out in the room and later discover that the woman busted the windshield in Eddie's truck.
Eddie is trying to get May to leave with him before the woman returns when the Old Man speaks again. He says that the two don't look like him but like their mothers.
Martin, the date, arrives. Eddie tackles him. May makes excuses for having the lights off and says that Eddie is her cousin, but Eddie tells Martin she is lying. Eddie mentions that he didn't know he had a sister. He met May in High School, and they had already fooled around by the time they found out they were related. Their daddy (the Old Man) secretly had two wives and split his time between the two families. Once, the Old Man took Eddie to see his other family, and there he saw May. He says they still knew they would always be in love.
May tells the rest of the story. Her mother was desperately in love with her father. When he was away, she searched and searched for him. After she discovered his other family, the Old Man disappeared, and May's mother was torn up with grief. When Eddie's mother learned what May and Eddie were up to, she killed herself.
The Old Man interjects angrily that that is not what happened. He asks Eddie to tell the truth, and Eddie confirms May's version. The Old Man says someone could have found him and told him, but Eddie says the Old Man was gone.
Eddie and May come together and kiss. The Old Man protests. Eddie's lover breaks something else outside, and a gas fire burns on the stage. Eddie and May are still embracing and Martin peers out the window. Eddie's horse trailer is on fire. He heads outside, assuring May that he will be right back. May begins packing, and Martin asks if she is going with Eddie. She says that Eddie has already gone. She leaves, and Martin stands dumbstruck. The Old Man returns to his chair and points at the picture again, claiming Barbara for his own.Fool for Love
was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1984. It won an Obie award for Best New American Play, Direction, and Performance the same year.