BWW Review: TRUE WEST at Rep Stage in Columbia - A Toast to Impeccable Performances!

It's the 1980's and aspiring playwright Austin (Daniel Corey) is on his portable typewriter writing a screenplay after escaping his home in Los Angeles and his wife and family for peace and tranquility in his mother's home next to a desert. She is off for a trip to Alaska.

Unexpectedly, his peace and quiet is disrupted when his brother Lee (Tim Gutman) a true misfit who has lived in the Mojave Desert and enjoys his life as a thief pops up to stay a few days and is always asking his brother for his car keys.

Austin is expecting a film producer Saul (James Whalen) to discuss his project and the last thing he needs is brother Lee to interfere with his meeting. But Austin is unable to do this. To Austin's amazement, Lee seems to get along with the film producer, gets invited to an early morning golf game, hypes his own story for a film which Saul agrees to produce instead of Austin's work. This could be Lee's attempt for success and the security he could finally achieve (instead of his life as a drifter). He's a terrific con man. Sibling rivalry is raised to a higher level than you have ever seen before. Austin becomes devastated at these developments.

In Act II, the brothers switch roles. While Austin is an accomplished typist, Lee attempts to write HIS screenplay by using the hunt and peck method ever so slowly. He gets so frustrated that he takes his anger by removing the typewriter ribbon (anybody remember those?) and eventually smashing the machine. Austin soon takes after his brother and bets his brother he could steal a toaster from a neighbor. Well...he doesn't just steal one, he steals every toaster in the neighborhood. I'll never forget the scene when he opens a loaf of Wonder Bread, puts bread in each toaster (they all work) and then butters them all quickly.

The spotless kitchen is transformed by the violent actions of the brothers who turn the kitchen into a trash bin full of beer cans, pots and pans, appliances, dishes and yes...toast. Kudos to Stage Manger Julie DeBakey Smith and Assistant Stage Manager Brittany Federici who are responsible for the cleanup. They deserve a bow at the end of the show.

Jenny Male does yeoman's work as the Fight Director. The brother's tangle like they are veterans from the World-Wide Wrestling Federation.

Daniel Corey and Tim Getman are stunning leads and their exceptional performances are backed up by the great direction by Lancisi. Lancisi, Artistic Director of Everyman Theatre, directed Rep Stage's first production in 1983, MARVIN'S ROOM by Scott McPherson.

James Whalen plays the suave and debonair Hollywood producer Saul with panache. I loved his outfits. Valerie Lash enters at the end of the play as "Mom" returning from her trip to find her home completely wrecked. Amazingly, she seems to take it well.

The artistic team combine to make the play so enjoyable: William K. D'Eugenio (Sound Design), Mollie Singer (Properties Design), Nathaniel Sinnot (Scenic Design), Joseph R. Walls (Lighting Design). And Jessica Welch (Costume Design).

Playwright Shepard died last year at the age of 73. He is the author of dozens of plays and won a Pulitzer Prize for BURIED CHILD (1978) and was nominated for TRUE WEST in 1983. He is probably best known for his many film roles including his Academy Award-nominated role as test pilot Chuck Yeager in 1983's "The Right Stuff".

TRUE WEST continues at Rep Stage until May 13. Performances are Thursday to Sunday. Thursday nights are only $10. For tickets, visit or call 443-518-1500.

It's exhilarating!

Next season, Rep Stage will be presenting the musical SWEENEY TODD, THINGS THAT ARE ROUND, TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES, 1992, and THE 39 STEPS. Subscriptions are only $120.

TRUE WEST will be returning to Broadway this fall starring Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano.

If you are looking for a bite before or after a Rep Stage performance, the closest restaurant the Asian Palace, 10801 Hickory Ridge Rd., Columbia. 410-772-8888. It features Asian cuisine and a sushi bar. It was delightful.

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From This Author Charles Shubow

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