Sunday, September 14, 2014
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

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Well levels drop around the county as drought presses on

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Snyder pleads no contest in UCD explosives case

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

    Psychologist casts doubt on Marsh insanity defense

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Looking for a few good residents

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Try yoga, meditation at Holistic Health Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Sign up now for free Community Yard Sale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Friday night robbery leads to arrests, dog bite

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Now the weather nut is all grown up

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Video shows slaying of British aid worker

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    West Nile virus holds strong in Davis area

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Davis Neighbors’ Night Out brings residents together

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Saylor meets constituents at Peet’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Hawaiian Luau set at Covell Gardens

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Portuguese breakfast set in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Youths can learn from DHS cheerleaders

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Logos plans four events for October

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    White, Gaard will lead Yolo Superior Court in 2015-16

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Fourth annual Capay Crush celebrates farm life

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Climate change rally planned in Central Park

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Downtown history tour planned in October

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Gibson House hosts plant sale and workshop

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Farmers Market sets Fall Festival

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Memorial playground approaches goal

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

    Renée Thompson to discuss her novel for Woodland Reads project

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Day of the Dead altar makers sought

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    MCCC will present justice awards at luncheon

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    New class offers parenting strategies

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Genealogy club presents virtual tour of local resource

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    University Farm Circle reaches out to newcomers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Garden doctor: Our trees are getting thirsty

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Public invited to 2014 Yolo Aging Summit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    .

    Forum

    Preventing RSV infections in our kids

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    She’s getting all the blame

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    The sacrificial lamb on the altar of denial

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A5

     
    They don’t want him around

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A5

    Unexpected treasures from the summer

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A5

     
    A bad vote for our water

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Bloggers, beware: They might be out to get you

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A12

     
    Bob Englehart cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

    Davis has options on innovation

    By Our View | From Page: A12

     
    Archer has worked hard for us

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Is history repeating itself?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    Time for a progressive PD

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A13

     
    .

    Sports

    No more FBS, but UCD’s tough schedule continues

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    DHS boys get a nice win with two big games looming

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Vintage pounds DHS on the ground

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie offense is there, but UCD can’t stop Rams

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Unlikely hero powers Republic in playoff opener

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    JV Blue Devils drop a high-scoring affair

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B3

    UCD roundup: Dons do just enough to edge Aggie women

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Blue Devils net a tournament win at home

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    Baseball roundup: A’s get a much-needed win in Seattle

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    Apply now for Davis Community Idol

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Business

    Nugget Markets’ cheese specialists achieve certified professional status

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

     
    Talks continue for proposed Old Soul site

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A9

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A9

     
    University lights way for hospital energy savings

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A14 | Gallery

    Davis leaders celebrate Engage3′s advances

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

     
    Doby Fleeman: The opportunity is ours

    By Doby Fleeman | From Page: A14

    .

    Obituaries

    Virnelle Triebsch

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, September 14, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8