Over the years, Shepard and David Mamet have been in an arm-wrestling contest for the title of America’s most macho playwright. But Shepard, now 66 and four years older than Mamet, seems to be mellowing. Although Ages of the Moon has the usual share of drinking, cussing, sex talk and, of course Shepard’s trademark outbursts of violence, there’s a tender ruefulness to this play that affected me in a way that his other works haven’t.
Ages of the Moon deals with aging, death, the ambiguity of memory and the hope that love can ease the inevitable approach of the final eclipse. Its protagonists are two old-time friends who reunite in an isolated hunting cabin where Ames, played by Stephen Rea, has summoned Byron, Seàn McGinley, to console him after Ames’ wife has thrown him out following his fling with a 23 year-old.