Sunday, December 30, 2018

True West

True West
Roundabout Theatre Company
American Airlines Theatre
December 28, 2018

Photo courtesy of Roundabout Theatre Co.
In True West Sam Shepard explores the jealousy and competition between brothers by heightening the clashes and destroying all acceptable facades.  The Roundabout Theatre Company production is well conceived and executed.  Director James Macdonald creates a rhythm between the two main characters that establishes their relationship.  As the action develops and the tables turn, the truth of the sibling rivalry reveals itself and explodes to an out of control level.

Lee (played by Ethan Hawke) drops in on his brother, Austin (played by Paul Dano), who is house sitting for their mother (played by Marylouise Burke) while she is on vacation in Alaska.  Austin is focused on writing a screenplay, while Lee is looking for his next grift.  During a meeting Austin has with Saul Kimmer, the producer of his project (played by Gary Wilmes), Lee interrupts and steals his thunder.  When Saul jumps at a story idea pitched by Lee, the months of time and effort Austin put on his project is brought to an abrupt and frustrating end.  The brothers are forced to work together and inadvertently face years of deep seeded rage.

Ethan Hawke & Paul Dano
Photo courtesy of Roundabout Theatre Company
Paul Dano and Ethan Hawke are perfectly matched in this production.  From the beginning of the play they are both driven by underlying emotion that clearly defines their early years of growing up together.  When the stakes are raised, they both reveal how far these suppressed emotions will take them.  In the final scene any remains of rational thinking is eviscerated and the sparks fly freely.  Mr. Dano’s and Mr. Hawke’s characters are impulsively driven.  Each scene contains unexpected turns that reveal their true selves.  Both men challenge themselves and deliver genuine performances.

True West is playing at the American Airlines Theatre through March 17.  Don’t miss this Sam Shepard scrutiny of family dynamics and brotherly rivalry.

Domenick Danza

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