Tonight on L.A. Theatre Works, True West by Sam Shepard is performed by an all-star cast, including Alfred Molina, Francis Guinan and Charlotte Rae.
Sam Shepard rose from the fringe theater of ’60s counterculture to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and movie star. His plays explore the deep roots of competition and violence in the American psyche. Take TRUE WEST, a black comedy about two adult brothers sojourning in their mother’s house while she’s away. One brother writes screenplays; the other commits petty larcenies. They hate each other. They fight. They might even have killed each other had not mom returned from Alaska in the nick of time. The Oscar-nominated Alfred Molina and Fran Guinan, who appeared in the celebrated Steppenwolf Theater production of the play, pour on the testosterone in this vigorous audio version, taped before an appreciative audience. Director Simonson keeps the pace brisk but orchestrates the tempo masterfully from hot to cold and back again. Charlotte Rae as the mother does a wonderful little star turn at the end. Y.R. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine– Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
Premiered in San Francisco in 1980, True West is one of Sam Shepard’s funniest plays, as well as one of his most brutal. Austin is a stable, successful Hollywood screenwriter, Lee his menacing vagabond brother, and True West is the story of their attempt to trade lives. Their tragicomic quest to change identity ends in a stalemate, but along the way this Pulitzer Prize-winning author takes gleeful potshots at Hollywood, the myth of the frontier, and the escape fantasies that drive the American imagination.