Fool for Love cast members, Kate Liquorish, Paka Zedwala and Langley Kirkwood, during an intense scene on stage. Picture: BRETT RUBIN
Fool for Love cast members, Kate Liquorish, Paka Zedwala and Langley Kirkwood, during an intense scene on stage. Picture: BRETT RUBIN

For Janice Honeyman, it’s all about the text, Sam Shepard’s words and the meaning of every little detail he noted. In an early rehearsal of Fool for Love, the actors are so focused that they hardly notice the people entering the room or the passing parade outside through the large windows of the rehearsal room.

Honeyman is also staging the second season of the Color Purple, but the veteran director takes things in her stride. She always has an excellent cast, making things much simpler.

Described in the publicity notes as a "relentless emotional conflict", Fool for Love is a tough yet exhilarating work. It also offers huge rewards for all involved in the work. Kate Liquorish, in the role of May opposite Langley Kirkwood’s Eddie, is pleased that they know each other. "It makes it easier to feel comfortable from the start with this intimate performance," she says.

Kirkwood is thrilled to be back on the Market Theatre stage for the first time in two decades. He lives in Cape Town and in recent years has performed mainly in film. He is relishing this opportunity. "The stage is really where we all want to be," he says.

The cast is exploring Shepard’s masculine landscape while dealing with a clash of male and female qualities in a play of heightened realism, says Honeyman. She loves Shepard’s words and the mix of reality and fantasy inherent in this work. "It’s about making sense of the play and then turning it on its head," she says.

It’s one of those plays where we have to let it all hang out … it’s obviously not for children

"It’s real and it’s raw," says Liquorish, after an hour rolling on the floor and tackling her lover in a way not often seen on South African stages.

The play requires the cast to dig deep as they scratch around in family lies and secrets. It deals with how people go about navigating the road from childhood into adulthood.

Shepard wrote much about family life, especially the way the men obliterate anyone who dares enter their spaces — as Sylvaine Strike so masterfully illustrated in her Woordfees production of Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class earlier this year. "It’s one of those plays where we have to let it all hang out," says Liquorish.

And yet, the script is often as funny as it is harsh, and the actors at the centre of the action — including Shepard’s obligatory father figure played by Zane Meas and a prospective lover, performed by Paka Zedwala — create compelling viewing.

There’s no pussyfooting around the raw reality. "It’s obviously not for children," says Liquorish. Kirkwood, though, is delighted that his two children are old enough to see this play – it is the first time they will see him on stage.

And it’s a play where members of the audience can jump right in emotionally and get their hands dirty.

Liquorish says she has lost her heart to Shepard’s haunting words. For Kirkwood, raised by a single mother and recently divorced from his wife, the lives of the family on stage resonates deeply – and it shows.

The play was written and first performed more than three decades ago. But it remains a universal story and there’s no chance of it ever losing its potency.

• ‘Fool for Love’ is showing at the Mannie Manim Theatre at the Market in Newtown, Johannesburg from September 2 until September 9 2018.

 

Correction: August 27 2018 

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the show was on until September 2. It is in fact showing from September 2 to September 9. 

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