by Sam Shepard.
Tricycle Theatre 269 Kilburn High Road NW6 7JR To 4 October 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm, 17, 24 Sept, 1 Oct 2pm.
Captioned 18 Sept.
Audio-described 25 Sept.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS 020 7328 1000.
Review: Carole Woddis 10 September.
One hell of an evening.
They don’t come much raunchier than this, not sexually raunchy but physically.
Take two brothers, poles apart in their lives and outlook on life, put them together in a house on the borders of the Mexican desert in the early 1980s, stir briskly by writer with a steady ear for the pregnant pause and a sense of the mythic and loss and you get True West, written 1980 by Sam Shepard, himself now something of an icon of a fast disappearing US of A.
Sam Shepard has given us a string of modern American classics in the past 30 years (Tooth of Crime, Buried Child, Fool for Love), tales from the edge that both feed on America’s sense of itself, especially the frontier myth and then attempts to destroy it.
In True West, it’s Hollywood under the microscope as a frontier land of bull-shitters and risk-takers as Austin and Lee, two siblings slug it out, eye-ball to eye-ball like two gun-slingers at the OK Corral – Austin, the steady one, a lucrative screenplay deal within his grasp, thwarted by the sudden appearance of big, baggy Lee, a drifter and hobo.
Shepard’s way with dialogue manages to maintain our interest continually by sheer virtue of his sense of character and situation, the dynamics between the pair of hostility and vulnerability swinging first one way then another in two volcanic performances by Alex Ferns and Eugene O’Hare. Beckett, Pinter, Mamet and even Strasberg’s `method’ all seem to merge in Phillip Breen’s production, first staged at the Glasgow Citz last year – though the thin programme gives us no hint as to its original provenance or the actors’ biogs.
A shame because this is one hell of an evening, in a fantastic set by Max Jones suggesting southern Californian Mexico land with its low slung ceilings and plaster pink walls gradually reduced to a totemic mess of toasters and domestic debris as the brothers go into melt-down and their mother appears at the doorway of her house, agape, to engineer a coda full of implications of America as a place of constant change and emotional and spiritual rootlessness.
Saul Kimmer: Steven Elliot.
Lee: Alex Ferns.
Austin: Eugene O’Hare.
Mom: Barbara Rafferty.
Director: Phillip Breen.
Designer: Max Jones.
Lighting: Tina MacHugh.
Sound: Andrea J Cox.
Accent/Dialect coach: Ros Steen.
Fight director: Renny Krupinski.
Associate designer: Ruth Hall.
This production of True West was first seen at the Citizen’s Theatre Glasgow in 2013. First performance at the Tricycle Theatre London 4 September 2014.