Friday, March 27, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

A fierce, fascinating battle in ‘True West’

By
From page A9 | March 28, 2012 |

Cole Alexander Smith, left, is Austin and Jonathan Rhys Williams is Lee in the Capital Stage's production of Sam Shepard's "True West," through April 22. Courtesy photo

Check it out

What: “True West” production by Capital Stage

When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through April 22

Where: Capital Stage, 2215 J St., Sacramento

Tickets: $20-$32; (916) 995-5464, www.capstage.org

Sam Shepard’s “True West” is not a comedy, but there is enough funny stuff in this dark and gritty play to relieve the unrelenting tension from time to time.

In Capital Stage’s brilliant new production of Shepard’s 1980 classic, director Stephanie Gularte creates a world where brothers Austin and Lee circle around each other, playing the antagonistic roles they have played all of their lives, engaging in a familiar, yet potentially deadly dance of sibling rivalry.

Cole Alexander Smith is Austin, a struggling Hollywood playwright who has come to house-sit for Mom, who is off in Alaska. Austin is the “good son,” we quickly realize. Mom knew he would keep her home tidy and her many house plants watered and Austin is looking to get away from his wife and family for the quiet of Mom’s house, where he can finish his screenplay in peace.

Lee (Jonathan Rhys Williams), who has not seen his brother in five years, is the ne’er-do-well, just off of three months out in the Mojave Desert, and determined to be the raspberry seed in Austin’s wisdom tooth, as he staggers around the kitchen in a beer-besotted haze, doing whatever he can to break his brother’s concentration, trying to minimize his dedication to his work.

“You probably think that I’m not fully able to comprehend somethin’ like that, huh? … that stuff you’re doin’, that art. You know. Whatever you call it. … I did some a’ that. I fooled around with it. No future in it.”

Lee’s “future” seems to be in the income he can get from breaking and entering and stealing things from the neighbors.

It is a brilliant performance by Williams, arrogant in his slovenly, laconic attitude, yet with perhaps a bit of wistfulness about what might have been in his life.

Smith’s Austin is more of an everyman, a buttoned-down, uptight man who doesn’t quite believe in his own talents and who is nervous about an upcoming script conference with Hollywood producer Saul Kimmer (Eric Baldwin). He waters his mother’s plants and worries about their alcoholic father, and tries to write despite Lee’s constant interruptions.

Yet it is Austin who undergoes the greatest transformation as the play progresses, revealing that while he disapproves of Lee’s lifestyle, he actually is as envious of Lee’s ability to step into any situation — no matter how inappropriate — and come up owning it, as Lee is of Austin’s success.

When the producer arrives, it is Lee who takes over the interview, insisting that he has an idea for a new Western, a modern Western, though he has not put a word to paper. It is Lee with whom Kimmer makes a golf date and who comes home with a contract to write his Western.

Baldwin does well as the superficial producer, interested only in the money he can make, and not in the value of the script he is buying.

As the play progresses, the tension between the two brothers reaches the breaking point and the inevitable confrontation is cataclysmic (and, one has to believe, a nightmare for stage hands!).

“True West” includes wonderful soliloquies for both characters, including Austin’s hilarious and heartbreaking account of how their father lost his teeth, twice.

Lee’s reflections on family life as seen by someone on the outside — ”Like a paradise,” he says. ”Kinda place that sorta kills ya inside. … Blonde people movin’ in and outta the rooms, talkin’ to each other. Kinda place you sort of wish you grew up in, ya know?” — give a bit of poignancy to his character.

Janis Stevens makes a brief appearance as the men’s mother. While this could have been a time for histrionics, her beaten-down, underplayed demeanor eloquently tells us all we need to know about what it was like to raise these two, and how many times she has had to referee their spats.

This is a play that is as compelling as the need to watch a train wreck as you see it coming. The characters will stay with you long after you leave the theater.

Comments

comments

.

News

Anti-gay initiative puts AG in a bind

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
County supervisors consider options for historic courthouse

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
State loosens sex offender residency restrictions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Two found dead in West Davis home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Lawyer disputes police’s hoax claim in California kidnapping

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Empower Yolo offers peer counselor training

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Davis Flower Arrangers meet Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Sign up for Camp Shakespeare

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Sing along on April Fool’s Day

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Neighbors invited to adopt Willow Creek Park

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
.

Forum

Can he get life back on track?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Blame Reid for impasse

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Practice cancer prevention each day

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Turnabout is fair play

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Be aware and be afraid

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

.

Sports

UCD men edge Hawaii on the court

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
UCD’s Hawkins, Harris to shoot at Final Four

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Home sweet home: Aggie women win a tennis match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Devil boys grind out a net win at Franklin

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

DHS baseballers fall to Vintage in eight innings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
DYSA roundup: Recent youth softball games feature big hitting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sacramento get its second straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sharks get a key win over Detroit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

UCD Student Fashion Association presents charity fashion show

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
‘Get Hard’ comes across as rather limp

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Monticello announces April live-music shows

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Leonardo Tuchman’s work shows at UC Davis Craft Center Gallery

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

Sacramento Youth Symphony holding open auditions

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

 
Preview Art Studio Tour participants’ work at The Artery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Smokey Brights to perform at Sophia’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
‘Deserted Destinations’ is April exhibit at Gallery 625

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

.

Business

Camry Hybrid takes a step forward

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

 
.

Obituaries

Celebrate Rusty Jordan’s Life

By Creator | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, March 27, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B4