Review

'Fool for Love' brings back desert lovers to the Hollywood Fringe Festival

The idiomatic voice of Sam Shepard provides the electrical currents that ignite “Fool for Love,” staged at the Los Angeles LGBT Center as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Shepard’s classic 1983 study of two enigmatically embattled lovers in a desert motel may seem an odd choice for a venue devoted to LGBT issues. Yet there’s something aptly subversive and Fringe-y about it, and this arresting revival makes a potent case for thinking outside the box.

Making impressive co-directorial debuts, Will Bradley and Cecilia Fairchild keep the tone at once oblique and immediate, embodied by the omnipresent Old Man (Bradley Fisher) in an upstage armchair. The elemental, ambiguous connection between Eddie (Burt Grinstead) and May (Charlotte Gulezian) thus plays out in eruptions before him and us.

And what eruptions they are. Grinstead, who also designed the effective skeletal set, and Gulezian  are as definitive as any pair since Ed Harris and Kathy Baker originated the roles.

Grinstead’s swagger and Gulezian’s vulnerability intersect with all the requisite naturalism, inscrutability and twisted humor, not to mention erotic tension and raw emotion.

Fisher, whose resemblance to both enhances the nuance, and Roland Ruiz, as the date whose arrival pivots the narrative into “Rashomon” territory, are likewise living their characters, not acting them.

Designer Matt Richter’s spare sound and bipolar lighting are judiciously deployed, notably at the first visual iteration of Eddie and May’s love-hate ethos. We’re kept wondering how much is true and how much is remembered and just who is zooming whom.

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“Fool for Love,” Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Davidson/Valentini Theatre, The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood. Ends July 10. $15. Check with the Hollywood Fringe Festival  or the LGBT center for times and tickets. (323) 455-4585. Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes.

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