Written by Sam Shepard
Directed by Frank Hilgenberg
Starring John Didonna, James Zelly, Bill Welter, and Geri Mansfield
Theater Downtown, Orlando
Mike R. Farad
You got your losers, and then you got your real losers. Austin (Didonna) is of the first sort, and Lee (Zelly) is more the second sort. Milquetoast Lee is working on a screenplay (who isn’t?) and has just about hooked a producer (Welter). Mom (Mansfield) pops off to Alaska, leaving Austin to sit house, mostly so drifter and small time thief Lee won’t cart off all the shiny stuff. More than just slightly psychotic, Lee likes Mom’s sort of nice neighborhood, as there aren’t too many barking dogs. With nothing much to occupy him until America goes to bed, he’s “helping” Austin write, mostly by pacing around while drinking beer and smoking and asking if he should leave. Lee horns into Austin’s meeting and steals the producer, convincing him to ditch Austin’s play for his own ill formed tale of a chase through Tornado Country. Only Austin has the typing skills to save the situation, but he’s just a bit miffed at big bro[base ‘] and ain’t about to help, not even for the return ofhis car keys.
Packed with the deep psychological meaning and intense angst ready to rip away the surface veneer polite society, True West contains the heavy drama one associates with the just off Broadway stage. Lee and Austin spend almost the entire play invading each others personal space,and burst into sharply choreographed fights. Didonna comes within in an inch of clocking Zelly for real. I hope these guys are still talking when this play is over.
Always the creepy scary intimidator, Lee morphs into the scared loser Austin. Austin’s only real hope for success leaves with the producer, but he recovers some feeling of power over Lee, who’s only hope of proving he is more than a bum involves conquering Austin’s job. Austin followsLee in fear, not knowing where the journey leads. Lee pushes on in fear, not knowing where he is going, just what he’s running from. Neither is happy with what life has dealt them, and is insanely jealous of the misery of the other. Yup, they’re really brothers.