By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
As difficult as it is to define what makes one performance transcend another, it's almost too easy to zero in on what weak actors do wrong. In Fool for Love, now in the Black Box Theatre at the Hampton-Illinois Library in Oak Cliff, the two leads in Sam Shepard's four-character play wrestle with the dialogue and each other in a staging by MET Theatre and Totally Wow Productions that goes wonky from the start.
So many young performers seem to think going buck wild onstage equates to maximum effort. But that confuses activity with artistry. Fool for Love's crazy couple, May and Eddie, do a 75-minute push-pull of physical passion and revulsion, but that doesn't mean the actors playing them have to slam the doors of that motel room every time or stomp around like deranged clog dancers.
Playing May, brunet beauty Haven Powers tosses her shiny hair like she's auditioning for America's Next Top Model. She's a hot histrionic mess, hitting one flat note after another. Her unrefined diction has her say "nee-ow" for "now" and "kee-ant" for "can't."
As down-and-out rodeo type Eddie, Randal Scott is about as sexy as a cowpat. He yells his lines and misses all of Shepard's intentions for the character. He really should have learned how to throw Eddie's lariat, too, instead of swinging it around like a hula hoop.
Relegated to minor roles, but doing much better work, are Ken Long as "The Old Man," a ghostly father figure haunting May and Eddie, and Don Long as suitor Martin, the dim but decent dude who comes to call on May. Both Longs dare to keep their performances simple and quiet, while all around them their co-stars wrangle for bigger bites of the scenery.