As the curtain rises, Eddie (Sam Rockwell) and May (Arianda), a couple in their early 30s, are sitting around silently and uncomfortably in a dilapidated motel room in the Mojave Desert. An old man (Gordon Joseph Weiss) is also onstage, though he is somewhat removed from the scene.
Eddie, a rodeo cowboy, has driven thousands of miles to find May, although May claims that it was Eddie who previously deserted her. She begs him to leave, but she can’t let him go, literally clutching his leg. Now and then, the old man, who has been staring blankly into space, starts to speak.
Their solitude is broken by Eddie’s current lover, who is waiting outside in a fancy car, and then Martin (Tom Pelphrey), a polite guy who was supposed to take May out on a date that night. Eventually, Eddie reveals the big secret about just how deep his relationship with May runs.
The thin 70-minute drama, which won acclaim three decades ago and was made into a film with Kim Basinger, is essentially an unsettling character study with a sense of mystery behind it.
Daniel Aukin’s focused, highly physical revival is built around the intense interplay between Arianda, who evokes both a hurt young girl and a torrent of violent emotion, and Rockwell, who coolly struts around and cockily plays with his lasso as if he were the Marlboro Man.
“Fool for Love” plays at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre through Dec. 6, 261 W. 47th St.,