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Simpatico Paperback – April 30, 1996
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Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From Cowboys (1964) at the Theater Genesis to Icarus's Mother (1965) at Café Cino to La Turista (1967) at La MaMa to The Tooth of Crime (1972) at Open Space, Shepard's "lost men" have stumbled across the stage in a way that has chronicled the fascinating interstice between eras and between generations. Shepard represents the desert poet, the rambling musician, the ill-fated prairie homesteader of American cultural memory, alone in a crowd and unassuaged by logic or love. Curse of the Starving Class (1977), Buried Child (1978), and True West (1980) moved him away from the perception that he was simply an avant-garde artist, an experimenter, and established his style and wide identification as a mainstream American playwright. In Fool for Love (1983) and A Lie of the Mind (1985), he joined Rabe and Mamet as portrayers of American masculinity in conflict with warring emotions and sexual violence. A Lie of the Mind, particularly, drew a line in the sand of public recognition as a dense work of loft and dimension, an imprecation and apologia of the last lone white male bellowing in the bleak boozy night.
As for Simpatico, it touches on all the Shepardian themes in its exploration of men, and women, on the edge, entering into a precarious and ever-shifting balance of power. It is, in the words of one director, "a meditation on heartache". Shepard, in his potentially pessimistic world, won't break into an emotional investigation of heartache per se, but examines the undercarriage of the heart and its wild persistent beat in an empty landscape.
When Simpatico opened at New York's Public Theatre in the fall of 1994, critics raved and razzed in equal measure. Some audiences may not want to take the journey, but there are riches to be mined here. In jolting shift from Kentucky to California, Simpatico traces a web of secrets, betrayal, love, loss, and black comic hope. Sam Shepard's American master-series continues.
Interesting mix of opinions...some hated the script, loved the play and hated the film and some loved the film over the script or the play.
I liked the script and the film more than the stage production we saw. SIMPATICO, however you experience it, promotes great discussions.
The play starts off like another "True West". Two men: one twisted, one together, one a loser, the other a success. But it turns out to be a different situation. Mr Success is dependent upon Mr Loser and sends him money to keep his mouth shut about something. Apparently several years ago they blackmailed a racing official with some sexual photography. Mr. Loser still nurses a grudge against Mr. Success, because Success took his wife and ran away with her after the dirty work was done. Not a bad setup, but the tone begins to vary a lot. It feels as though Shepard never figured out where he really wanted to go with this.
Other characters are thrown into the picture, such as a young woman who is a strange conglomeration of naivety and knowingness. This girl has somehow gotten involved with Loser and then begins to pal around with Winner. Loser than goes to visit his ex-wife, who is Winner's current wife, and try to win her back or something. By the end it is hard to understand, or to care much, about what is going on with these characters.
This piece lacks the fire and tension that make the best Shepard plays into something truly special (plays like "The Tooth of Crime", "Fool for Love", and "True West"); and it doesn't have the inventiveness that make some of his other pieces into such wacky fun. But I still want to see it, in case I have to take this all back someday.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Shepard has been a favorite playwright of mine since the 80s
Simpatico stands out as being a modern film noir
It is in my top 5 this season for submissions to direct at... Read more
To me Shepard is saying that whether you are a pauper living in a hovel or a gentleman living on an estate, the cantankerous affects of life without morals will get you. Read morePublished on December 5, 2002 by Bryce Wisan