True West plays at the Balagan Theatre (1117 E. Pike) between now and May 1.
Sam Shepard, a well-known American playwright, wrote True West in 1980. It tells the tale of two brothers. Austin pretty much has it together. He’s a young man with a family and a budding screenwriting career. The play opens with him house-sitting for his mother who is away on vacation. He has come here for privacy to work on a screenplay, but is quickly interrupted by his brother Lee, an unshaven alcoholic and petty thief who has also decided to return home from a stint on the desert. At first, Lee only intends to steal a few items of value from his mother’s neighbors, then move on. Although Austin protests, he quickly realizes there is little he can do to change his brother’s behavior and simply requests that he be out of the house by the following day when Austin is expecting a visit from a Hollywood producer, Saul Kimmer. The introduction of the producer changes their relationship and their lives when the unexpected happens.
Mike Dooly played the role of Uncle Louie in Village Theatre’s Lost in Yonkers, and delivers another solid and rich performance here with Balagan. Chris Bell, a Balagan regular, also appeared in Zastrozzi and Elephant’s Graveyard. Although True West tradition has it that the actors switch roles from night to night, there is no way these two should trade places. They are aptly cast, so putting them in the other brother’s role seems ill advised, as the wise directors, Shawn Belyea and Tim Hyland noted.
True West is an intense depiction of an intense relationship, that ends with the set being all but utterly demolished and a few dozen toasters scattered around. The toasters themselves even provide some of the comic timing, popping at just the right moment. The show is tight, well acted, impressively staged, and enjoyable.
For more info: Visit the website. Buy tickets at Brown Paper Tickets.