Critics enjoy 'brilliant and lacerating' True West
Sam Shephard's 1980's play revived under the direction of Phillip Breen at the Tricycle Theatre stars Alex Ferns, Barbara Rafferty and Eugene O'Hare
...The Tricycle has done London theatre a great service in importing this brilliant and lacerating revival of Sam Shepard's signature play... Irish screen star Eugene O'Hare is a slight, meticulous Austin, fingering his typewriter as if it were a piano, gradually sucked into the horrifying realisation that his world of imagination has been invaded and colonised. Similarly, Alex Ferns - best known as the villainous Trevor Morgan in EastEnders - becomes increasingly recognisable as the archetypal realist road and landscape writer dressed in wolf's clothing. It's a sign of the play's poetic complexity that at no stage do these developments seem schematic or false... The climax, with an array of stolen toasters and much wielding of golf clubs (alas, poor typewriter) is shocking, visceral, metaphoric.
...Shepard's vision of sibling rivalry and artistic fallibility seems rich and spontaneous, and Max Jones's design is able to lay bare the workings of the brothers' relationship... The conflict illustrates the tensions that exist in all creative partnerships — and indeed within every creative person, as fantasy and ambition chafe against the forces of pragmatism... the play itself is uneven and repetitive, a series of sometimes dazzling riffs rather than a satisfying whole.
...Sam Shepard himself has rightly praised Phillip Breen's brilliant small-scale production of Shepard's seminal 1980 play... Alex Ferns – who, stones heavier and goateed, is near unrecognisable from his days as an abusive husband in EastEnders – and Eugene O'Hare can grab us by the jugular, free of the entanglement of celebrity...Both Ferns, who is an adept physical comic, and O'Hare, foaming at the mouth, had the audience in stitches – but then, moments later, with both characters working so hard to mask their existential despair, they were very nearly making us cry... An enthralling production of a true classic.
...A bare-knuckle brawl between old myths and new illusions, civilisation and savagery, creativity and commerce, it's played out in sibling strife of nerve-jangling violence... Breen delivers spectacular devastation and a giddily unhinged climax, the air full of fury and acrid smoke... The payoff is performances from Alex Ferns and Eugene O'Hare that sizzle with long-held resentment, envy and mistrust... a memorable, blackly comic image of helplessly thwarted ambition.
...The American dream unravels dramatically in Sam Shepard's combustible masterpiece, revived in a constantly alert, eventually scorching production that was first seen at Glasgow Citizens' last year... Director Phillip Breen emphasises Pinteresque pauses and notes of sheer menace as these siblings face each other off in a battle for possession and control... Barbara Rafferty is both superb and moving... Although the production may occasionally threaten to go over the top, it's a rollercoaster of a dramatic ride, and makes for a bracing night.
Come on our hosted WhatsOnStage Outing to True West on 18 September and get your ticket, a FREE poster and access to our EXCLUSIVE post-show Q&A with the cast - all for £20.00