There’s an adage — “Men/women you can’t live with them, you can’t live without them..” Then there are the ones that go, “Men/women you can’t live with them, you can’t shoot them, kill them, etc.” Eddie and May, the two main characters in this revival of Sam Shepard’s play, take both the original adage and its corollary to heart.
The setting is a seedy motel room in the Mojave Desert, but it could be in any rundown room anywhere in the U.S. Eddie (Sam Rockwell), a cowboy and May (Nina Arianda), allegedly a short-order cook, are weary and warring lovers. When the play opens he’s asleep on a chair and she’s slumped over on a bed. Have they been fighting? Are they hungover from a night of hard partying? When Eddie wakes up and finally rouses May she wraps herself around his legs and won’t let go. So begins a “dance” that’s been danced before — he threatens to leave, she tells him to leave, she begs him to stay, he tells her she’s going with him. This is obviously a scene that’s been played out many times as the two of them are doomed to follow in the footsteps of their parents. The two other “dance partners” are the “Old Man” who sits on the porch and makes pronouncements about both the present and the past, and Martin, a nice guy who’s attempting to take May out on a date and becomes a witness to their pas de deux.
The dialogue is wonderful — both woeful and witty. While all four actors are good I found Rockwell to be the strongest in the production — he really inhabits his role. You leave the theater feeling like you’ve witnessed a combination boxing match and definitely unconventional love story — one without a happy ending and seemingly in an endless loop. AFW
Manhattan Theatre Club at The Samuel J Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47 Street
Ticket price: $75.00-$150.00 (discounts available various websites)
Discounts: thru Broadwaybox.com, Theatermania, $69-$109
Running time: 75 minutes, no intermission
Runs thru: December 13, 2015