All's fair with love and hate for St Albans theatre company

PUBLISHED: 16:03 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010

Fool for Love was part of the Sam Shepard double bill

Fool for Love was part of the Sam Shepard double bill

LOVE and hate are frequent bedfellows and never more so than in the work of the American dramatist Sam Shepard. The prolific writer examines two completely different aspects of the love and hate conundrum in Cowboy Mouth and Fool For Love - the two plays

LOVE and hate are frequent bedfellows and never more so than in the work of the American dramatist Sam Shepard.

The prolific writer examines two completely different aspects of the love and hate conundrum in Cowboy Mouth and Fool For Love - the two plays performed by talented drama company Peppermint Muse in St Albans last Friday and Saturday.

Neither are particularly easy plays to watch, let alone direct and perform, and it is all credit to Peppermint Muse that they did such a professional job of both.

Cowboy Mouth was written when Shepard was deeply into an affair with Patti Smith and his guilt about abandoning his wife and child comes out strongly in the play - a true case of art imitating life.

At the heart of the tortured relationship between Slim and Cavale is her determination that he is going to become a rock star. Smitten as he is with her, in his more lucid moments he wonders what on earth he has done.

Stephen Cunningham, always a reliable actor, took the role of Slim with Jenny Ayres as the dynamic Cavale. The duo worked well together, managing to invest their relationship not only with passion and a sort of madness but also a strong feeling of claustrophobia.

Daniel Arnold made a brief appearance as Lobster Man - dressed in a rather fetching lobster costume - and proves to be the catalyst in Slim and Cavale's deteriorating relationship.

Stephen Cunningham directed Fool for Love which starred Lisa White who directed Cowboy Mouth, an interesting juxtaposition.

Fool for Love was, in some respects, the more gripping of the two plays perhaps because the Old Man, played by Derek Coe, drops in fascinating snippets about the relationship between May and Eddie as it progresses.

Even though Derek was on the stage throughout, his presence was never obtrusive as the relationship between May, played by Lisa White, and Eddie, John Stenhouse, was played out in front of him. He has the sort of calm yet authoritative voice which is perfect for such a role.

The two major protagonists were excellent and the sparks that flew in their apparently-doomed relationship made it totally absorbing.

Trevor D Oakes as May's kind-hearted suitor Martin who finds himself caught up in something he does not understand was the perfect foil to the tormented couple.

Peppermint Muse is a touring theatre company with strong local connections - nearly all the actors have links with existing St Albans drama groups like the Company of Ten and OVO.

Long may they continue to produce works as fascinating and thought-provoking as the Shepard double bill.

MADELEINE BURTON

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