Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Review: True West at the Tricycle Theatre

True West
Tricycle Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 9th September 2014

A grisly play of sibling rivalry, True West by Sam Shepard is a thrillingly twisted play. Whilst looking after his mother's house, Austin is busy at work on a film script which looks set to be his big break with the backing of a Hollywood producer. 

Austin's life spirals out of control when his loose cannon brother Lee turns up and convinces the producer to drop his brother's film and instead pick up his slightly random Western tale. To rub salt into the wound, the producer drops Austin’s project and instructs him to type up the script for Lee… and from thereon after it is safe to say things do not go swimmingly.

Phillip Breen's direction is incredibly detailed. At the start Max Jones's naturalistic design is neat and tidy with a flickering candle placed between the brothers bringing focus. As True West progresses and the brothers lose all self-control they tear the house apart; I have almighty respect for the production team who face the challenge of putting the set back together after each performance!

The horizontal opening and closing of the front curtain also makes a refreshing change, adding to Breen's focused direction. As the curtain closes the actors’ eye lines are perfectly framed; artistically this play is superb. 

Remarkable performances come from Eugene O'Hare and Alex Ferns as Austin and Lee. Both give their absolute all and perform with unthinkable emotional strength. They quite literally tear the set and each other apart; I cannot begin to imagine how physically and mentally exhausting these roles are to perform. 

The name on everybody's lips all evening was Sam Shepard, and interestingly everybody seems to have such strong opinions. Many named the American playwright "the best there is" whilst I heard others explain they admire his work but have never been able to connect with his writing on a personal level. Alongside Breen's swift direction, Shepard has written True West with a good pace. Scenes don't drag and progress at steady stages. 

True West is a fantastic show which sits nicely inside the always welcoming Tricycle Theatre.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

True West runs at the Tricycle Theatre until Saturday 4th October 2014.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Pete Le May

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