Review Roundup: Find Out What Critics Thought of TRUE WEST Starring Kit Harington
Kit Harington - renowned for his leading role in the internationally acclaimed series Game of Thrones - and Johnny Flynn - star of the widely celebrated film Beast and US TV series Genius, star in Sam Shepard's ferociously funny, modern classic, True West, the first UK production of Shepard's work since his death last summer.
True West will play a limited season at the Vaudeville Theatre from Friday 23 November - Saturday 23 February (Press Night: Tuesday 4 December at 7:00pm).
Austin is working on a movie script that he has sold to producer Saul Kimmer when Lee stumbles back in to his life. Never content to watch from the sidelines, he pitches his own idea to Kimmer, an action which has far reaching consequences...
Set against the searing heat of the Californian desert, Shepard's critically acclaimed drama pits brother against brother as a family tears itself apart, exposing the cracks in the American Dream.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: The play itself can feel like a series of bizarre riffs, but is packed with similarly outrageous moments. Crucially, whether bickering about art or madly wielding golf clubs, the leads spark off each other, often to hair-raising effect.
Michael Billington, The Guardian: You can see why Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn were drawn to Sam Shepard's 1980 play. It's a poetic paean to the vanishing American west and a classic study of sibling rivalry that offers two cracking main roles. But, enjoyable as Matthew Dunster's revival is, I felt the play works best in small theatres and that the central pairing doesn't achieve a perfect balance.
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph: Kit Harington - who can count for ages hence on an army of fans, thanks to his prowess-packed turn as lynchpin Game of Thrones character Jon Snow - takes the role, against rugged type, of the desk-bound, sweatily creative Austin. And as Lee, director Matthew Dunster has cast the more boyish, if older, Johnny Flynn - a revelation as the insouciant cockney interloper in his production of Martin McDonagh's Hangmen in 2015. They're almost a dream team. What's hugely frustrating is that they're hobbled by the show's remediable deficiencies.
Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter: Although well equipped for the comic demands of the material, the two leads' ping pong-style dialogue delivery occasionally gets a smidge monotonous, not unlike the regular rhythms of The Crickets thrumming outside, which Lee complains about at one point. At least the time flies by in this briskly paced production, which starts out crisply and builds up a full head of woozy drunken mayhem by the end, with golf clubs slicing the air as slices of bread pop in the many toasters stationed at the edge of the stage.
Rosemary Waugh, TimeOut: But Matthew Dunster's production sells it a bit short. The celeb pairing of Harington and Flynn never fizzes enough with the threat of violence. Hair-and-make-up aside, both remain slightly too young, too pretty and too reserved to work in either role.
Paul Taylor, The Independent: I thought Harington, who is very fine, could have brought out more the neurotic intensity of the constipated writer in the first half of the play. Flynn is comic perfection - his attempts at intimidation all the more unsettling for having a mocking edge and a faint undercurrent of insecurity. It's a brilliant stroke that Lee even manages to usurp his brother's professional territory. Against all the odds, he sells a treatment for a western - supposedly truer because it is based on experience - and Austin, tasked with typing up this dubious screed, hits the bottle.
Fergus Morgan, The Stage: Shepard's plays don't always make sense. They so often trade in mood and emotion, rather than rhyme or reason. True West teases its audience with little tastes of meaning - flirtations with ideas of fraternity and of freedom, but its ultimately an enigmatic play. Dunster plays on that, but he also elucidates the comedy in Shepard's bruising story of brotherly love.
Photo Credit: Roy Tan