Click here!


Theatre Review: True West

Lorna Irvine is very impressed by the recent Citizens Theatre production.

The coyotes are circling...

Austin (Eugene O'Hare) is a successful writer looking after his Mom's house while she's away in Alaska and keen to schmooze a Hollywood agent. Into her candy-coloured suburban kitchen struts Austin's brother Lee (Alex Ferns), a petty thief and slug in human form. There's tension between the two, products of a family so dysfunctional that their alcoholic father even managed to misplace his set of false teeth.When the agent, Saul Kimmer (Steven Elliot, a smarmy vision in white slacks) does show up however, it's not Austin's but Lee's vision, a tacky western that he's keen to take on, to Austin's disgust and amazement.

"He doesn't want a film,'' Lee explains. ''He wants a movie. Leave films to the French!"

“You can't even spell,” splutters Austin, and Lee proposes that they collaborate together.

Can Austin sell out and make a piece of junk with his dangerous brother, knowing it could make them very rich?

Phillip Breen's excellent production bubbles with tacit malevolence in the first half then plays with high farce and ultimately scathing frenzied satire in the second as the roles reverse in a joyously drunken scene involving stolen toasters.

The leads make a decent fist(fight) of Sam Shepard's rugged poetry, with Ferns playing Lee as almost cartoonish grotesque: half Yosemite Sam, half Charles Bukowski; but it's O' Hare's Austin who provides the real sucker punch: initially likeable, nebbish even, you can almost taste the moment he is seduced by the dark side. Only Barbara Rafferty's half-assed performance as the Mom drags things down.

Designer Max Jones' split screen cunningly rises and falls upon scenes, creating a vision of Shangri-La which is rotting away: the American Dream curdling. The sound of the howling coyotes, provided by Andrea J Cox, are a nice touch too, as everything falls apart. The coyotes could, of course, be read as a corrosive symbol of fame, snapping at the brother's heels...or perhaps simply Hollywood executives, tarnishing dreams of high artistic integrity.

True West is impressive indeed, brutal and wise but, above all, good raucous fun- and you may crave toast at the end.

Runs until November 16th, Citizens Theatre.

Tags: theatre

Comments: 0 (Add)

To post a comment, you need to sign in or register. Forgotten password? Click here.

Find a show

Search the site

Find us on …

Find us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterFind us on YouTube

Click here!