Sam Shepard's wild West just got a lot scarier. I'm talking about that shadowy, shifting desertscape occupied so disharmoniously by the two brothers of Shepard's 1980 masterwork, "True West," which has been given a ripping revival by James Macdonald at the American Airlines Theater. As embodied bya brilliant Ethan Hawke, in full-menace mode, and a tightly wired Paul Dano, everyday sibling rivalry has seldom felt this ominous.
True West on Broadway Reviews
Reviews of True West on Broadway. See what all the critics had and read all the reviews for True West including the New York Times and More...
From: New York Times | By: Ben Brantley | Date: 01/24/2019
‘True West’ Broadway Review: Ethan Hawke, Paul Dano Find Direction In Sam Shepard Classic Of Brotherly Hate
From: Deadline | By: Greg Evans | Date: 01/24/2019
Hawke and Dano are well-suited in both temperament and talent for the Roundabout's Broadway revival of Shepard's once-shocking blast of new wave absurdism, opening tonight at the American Airlines Theatre.
From: TimeOut NY | By: Adam Feldman | Date: 01/24/2019
If the charismatic Hawke all but wipes the floor with Dano in the play's first half, Dano gets his turn to act out in Act Two. These are showcase roles, and the actors play them with gusto. James Macdonald's Roundabout Theatre Company production occasionally errs on the side of the obvious: Marylouise Burke brings her customary off-kilter comic panache to her cameo as the brothers' late-returning mom, but Gary Wilmes smears an extra layer of grease on the already oleaginous role of a Hollywood producer, and a showy change of lighting undermines Austin's big story about how his dissolute father lost two pairs of teeth.
From: The Stage | By: Nicole Serratore | Date: 01/24/2019
Macdonald extracts humour from the play but the outlandish disintegration in the second act does not quite come off, in part due to Dano's reticence. His introspective approach works well in the first act, but he is less convincing when he lets loose. Hawke, however, is superb. His Lee is a lizardy con man with limited hustle who's desperately playing his only hand. Belly jutting out, covered in sweat and filth like nothing could ever wash him clean, Hawke physically digs into the role. With an obscene finger gesture or a subtle slump in his posture, he alternatively radiates helplessness, shame, innocence, predation.
From: Entertainment Weekly | By: Jessica Derschowitz | Date: 01/24/2019
Hawke and Dano - who've both received accolades recently for the film First Reformed and the Showtime series Escape at Dannemora, respectively - do an excellent job going round for round, playing into the comedic moments of their fighting, and director James Macdonald gives the play a cinematic touch by using music and a picture-frame effect of bright lights around the stage between scenes. (The costumes, by Kaye Voyce, get more disheveled as the action ramps up.) But while watching them go at it is entertaining, what the play is fighting for isn't as clear. There are themes of sibling rivalry and family strife (their father, unseen but spoken of, is a drunk living alone out in the desert), the idealized lawlessness of the Wild West, the way Hollywood deals are done and just as easily undone. But all those questions are left unanswered, with strewn beer cans and dead plants to show for all the debate.
From: Wall Street Journal | By: Terry Teachout | Date: 01/24/2019
But while "True West" fails to add up to a convincing dramatic whole, it still works as a vehicle for two first-class actors, and the stars of this revival qualify. Mr. Hawke, who has the flashier of the two parts, comes on strong, occasionally over-egging the pudding (you get the feeling that he's enjoying himself a little too much) but nonetheless giving a performance in which you can smell the anger and envy leaching out of his pores. Mr. Dano, by contrast, is both subtler and more interesting: Here as in "Love & Mercy," he plays a character whose bland surface serves as camouflage for roiling interior turmoil, and everything he does in "True West" is excitingly surprising.
From: Hollywood Reporter | By: Frank Scheck | Date: 01/24/2019
Shepard's enigmatic play defies easy interpretation, with its vague themes of sibling rivalry, the mythos of the American West and the thin line between civilization and anarchy never truly coming into focus. But it works marvelously as a mood piece, which for several reasons this production only partially succeeds in capturing. The expansive American Airlines Theatre isn't intimate enough to provide the necessary air of claustrophobia; the slack pacing of Act I allows boredom to settle in; and Hawke, as good as he is, is a bit too studied in his affect. He certainly tries hard, but you never get the sense of true danger that his character is supposed to emit.
From: Daily Beast | By: Tim Teeman | Date: 01/24/2019
Both the fun and menace of Sam Shepard's True West-and the latest Broadway adaptation which opened tonight has both in vivid bursts-is to see two brotherly opposites swap sides and spirits.
From: The Wrap | By: Robert Hofler | Date: 01/24/2019
How can one actor be so good and another so misguided in the same production? That bizarre mash-up happens in the Roundabout's new revival of Sam Shepard's "True West," which opened Thursday at Broadway's American Airlines Theatre. Indeed, how can Ethan Hawke deliver such a grandiose, inspired performance as the bad brother Lee across the stage from a wan, overly ironic performance by Paul Dano that flirts with embodying, but never grabs hold of, the good brother Austin? James Macdonald directs this very unbalanced spectacle.
From: Vulture | By: Sara Holdren | Date: 01/24/2019
Hawke is lighting a fire (literally and figuratively) at the center of the play and clearly having a ball doing it. But on the other side of things, through some imperfect alchemy of actor, director, and character, Dano's Austin can't take the heat. He's so recessive for so long that Lee has nothing much to push against. Shepard builds tension between the brothers scene by scene, but here, an Austin who bends, deflates, and dwindles so easily and so consistently starts to make the play feel repetitive rather than cumulative, a drone rather than a gradual ribcage-rattling crescendo. When Dano finally reaches Austin's key aria - in which he quietly tells Lee the grim, pathetic story of their alcoholic father's trip to Juarez to get all his teeth pulled by a backstreet dentist - he's at last in his melancholy element. But the road to get there has been long and frustratingly flat.
From: Variety | By: Marilyn Stasio | Date: 01/24/2019
If there's one thing a production of "True West" must have, it's that haunting sense of the two brothers being one person at war with himself. That's exactly what director James Macdonald's new Broadway production doesn't have. Hawke seethes and smolders in a thrilling approximation of Lee's craziness, but there's no hint of Austin in his manic performance. And while Dano is completely convincing as the repressed Austin, there's no sign of his secret bad boy, not even when he's breaking into houses and stealing toasters.
From: Observer | By: David Cote | Date: 01/24/2019
Now the Roundabout Theatre Company takes a whack at this testosterone- and booze-soaked brotherly beatdown, and the results are disappointingly wan. First, credit where it's due: British director James Macdonald treats the script as if it were a well-built drama, and not the scrappy excuse for histrionics and set bashing that it basically is. Macdonald's intelligent, detailed work reveals the play's symmetries, its nicely orchestrated musical qualities that alternate crashing violence and noise with hushed moments of melancholy. In other words, this is the most well-behaved True West I've ever seen.
From: amNY | By: Matt Windman | Date: 01/24/2019
Both can easily be found online and are far preferable to the play's problematic new Broadway revival, which is directed by James Macdonald ("The Children") and stars a top form Ethan Hawke (in his first Broadway outing since a disastrous "Macbeth" in 2013) and an utterly miscast Paul Dano ("Ruby Sparks").
From: Guardian | By: Alexis Soloski | Date: 01/24/2019
True West, that drama of Cain-and-Abel family dynamics and masculinity stunted like a Joshua tree is back on Broadway. Probably Sam Shepard's most popular play and the one in which his artistry and his preoccupations collide most openly and honestly, True West is catnip - or neat whiskey - to a certain kind of male actor with an interest in both indulging a macho sensibility and deconstructing it. For this production, the Roundabout, under James Macdonald's direction, has brought together Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano, who somehow produce all the great upheaval of a 10-gallon hat left out in a drizzle.