City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

True West, Citizens Theatre, Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 10 November 2013

Show Details
Citizens Theatre
A Citizens Theatre Production
Sam Shepard (writer), Phillip Breen (director), Max Jones (design),Tina McHugh (lighting), Andrea J Cox (composer and sound design), Renny Kuprinski (fight director), Ros Steen (voice and dialect coach)
Steven Elliot (Saul Kimmer), Alex Ferns (Lee), Eugene O’ Hare (Austin), Barbara Rafferty (Mom)
Running time: 

The clicking of crickets and the howling of an ever increasing pack of coyotes are the backdrop to this cinematically portrayed American drama.

Sam Shepard’s modern classic, regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest plays and one of Shepard’s greatest works, is a taut and tense tale about two diverse siblings. Austin (Eugene O’ Hare) is a budding Hollywood screen writer who is conservatively married with kids. He is trusted with looking after his mother’s house while she is on holiday in Alaska. His brother Lee (Alex Ferns) is a hard drinking, manipulative bum (in the American sense) who turns up after following his father’s feckless footsteps and living for some time in the desert. When Lee decides he has an idea for a movie (“leave the films to the French”) that’s every bit as good as his brother’s old rivalries emerge and erupt.

Brilliantly directed by Phillip Breen and in a set of detailed design from Max Jones, each scene appears like a live piece of cinema (who needs 3D glasses?) with the stage screen opening horizontally. Perfect order turns to anarchic chaos as the brothers’ opposing worlds collide, exposing lies and hypocrisy in each of the men’s lives as the American Dream appears for one as suddenly as it disappears for the other.

This comic drama that is as black as a lump of chewin’ tabaccy has had its main protagonists portrayed by the likes of Tommy Lee Jones, John Malkovich, Dennis Quade, Bruce Willis, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly, but this Glasgow cast steps up to the mark giving all round silver star performances. This is most true in the case of Alex Ferns, back to his home town to play the monstrous Lee. Barbara Rafferty has a brief but significant role as the coiffed and suited seen–it-all Mom to which she brings suitable sang froid.

If you can get yourself through to the Dear Green Place before 16 November when the run ends, this show is worth lassoing.

Show times
Tue 29 Oct – Sat 16 Nov 2013, 7.30pm (no performances Sundays and Mondays)
Previews: Tue 29 & Wed 30 Oct 7.30pm
Matinees: Sat 9 & Sat 16 Oct, 2.30pm