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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMB Theater: A Last Hurrah

He loves me, he loves me not
Brian James Ward
He loves me, he loves me not

Sunday, May 7, 20005 my heart bounced from my chest, I clung to the edge of my seat and my eyes full of tears. With such a suspension of disbelief, I became part of UMass Boston’s Theatre’s production of Sam Shepherd’s Fool for Love.

Under the direction or professor/director Daniel Gidron and student director Kerri Leigh the cast of four grabbed the audience by the throat and kept them enthralled for the entirety of the 70 minute production. Fool for Love consists of drastically complex characterization that enforces the theme of love’s blindness to outside forces, even blindness to one’s own consciousness, as well as the theme of succumbing to desires that are viewed as taboo and forbidden through almost every scope: religious, social, psychological, and legal.

This creates a slightly Garden of Eden-esque quality to the play; the human inclination to do what they are not “supposed” to do. Since Eddie (Marc Mancini) and Mae (Dalilah Freedman) are half-siblings Shepherd heightens the stakes of these character’s relationships and their dynamic. The use of incest turns the story on its head and makes the audience see what they thought was only a slightly dysfunctional relationship into a disastrous and dangerous one.

The performance was near perfection as the theatre and audience watched in silent stillness; you could hear a pin drop that Sunday in McCormack. The intensity between leading lovers Eddie and Mae was the driving force of the production. The lighting provided by Laura Schrader’s class enhanced the dim and raw mood and created an atmosphere which made the bodies of the actors pop and gave them a grandiose appearance. Schrader’s design class also provided the set: the interior of a dingy motel room that came equipped with battered blinds and one single bed – center stage; where a majority of the action took place.

I became attached to the painful, yet passionate relationship of Eddie and Mae and I longed for them to rekindle their love. Mancini honed his theatrical skills and gave a performance that was outstanding and believable. He captured the duality of Eddie, with a forced strength masking his insecurities and hopelessness. Mancini utilized the performance space of the beaten down motel room, he didn’t burst forth from the space, but made the space come alive. He often commanded the scenes, for example he would stand up on the bed or do a flip on it, use his lasso, or stand on a chair to make his presence known and emphasize his masculinity or intimidate Mae or Martin.

The acting choices of Freedman were impeccable and believable, as she ran frantically on stage stuffing her vibrant red suitcase, or slugging a bottle of booze. An intense moment representing Freedman’s startling portrayal of a devastated woman broken by love was when she traced the dingy motel room’s walls with her aching body, ending Downstage Center in a puddle, sobbing on the floor. This action occurred simultaneously as the Old Man (her father) played by Matt Flynn recited a monologue regarding her childhood.

The young actor; Flynn illuminated the man’s avoidance of reality and alcoholism, while portraying an oddly charming elderly hick. His age was also convincing due to a stunning make-up and costume job by Heather Philips that turned him gray and wrinkled.

The character of Martin played by Martin Berryman appeared midway through the production and at the perfect time to provide some much needed comic relief. He balanced the tension and furthered the action. Martin hilariously portrayed a quirky nerd, his physical insecurities seen through his movement choices were right on.

Alcohol plays a role in the play as well and almost transcends itself into an actual character. The impression that alcohol abuse places on the themes of Fool for Love are quite prevalent. Each person’s forced acceptance of their emotionally unstable desires and love are drowned with liquor. These desires become alive and relevant as the play progresses, the truth comes out; when the characters get intoxicated.

The UMB Theatre’s performance represented a love to strong to control or ignore, a love that most people can relate to, one that we recognize as wrong, that pains us, but fills us, that kills us, but keeps us alive, makes us a Fool. I left the theatre emotionally shot with the sudden urge to call an ex-lover. Fool For Love was a great success!