Sibling Rivalry On Steroids As “True West” Takes Over STLAS Stage

True-oncounter

Isaiah Di Lorenzo as Lee towers over William Humphrey as Austin in “True West” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Photo: Patrick Huber

Brothers Lee and Austin are always entertaining gents to visit and this time St. Louis Actors’ Studio is presenting them in Sam Shepard’s “True West.” Could there be any siblings with more dysfunction than these two? Thanks to a top notch cast, this fast moving play delights and shocks us until the final? confrontation.

True-typing

William Humphrey as Austin tries to work as Isaiah Di Lorenzo as Lee taunts him in the STLAS production of “True West.” Photo: Patrick Huber

Director William Whitaker pulls out all the stops as Lee visits his brother at their mother’s house in Southern California. Mom is vacationing in Alaska and Lee decides he should visit Austin and stir up some old wounds and basically get on his nerves. Austin is in the midst of writing a film script commissioned by an agent, Saul. Lee does everything he can imagine to distract him until Saul finally visits and the brash and charming Lee starts spinning a tale that only a bad agent would love. So Saul dumps Austin’s script and urges Lee to write an outline.

True-toast

Isaiah Di Lorenzo as Lee stuffs toast in his mouth from the toasters Austin has stolen in “True West” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Photo: Patrick Huber

Verbal and physical abuse begins until the final confrontation in which Austin is afraid that Lee has finally pushed him to the edge. William Humphrey is the mild mannered Austin but the tables suddenly turn when the con man Lee becomes “top dog” in this rivalry. Playing Lee with a lot of panache and uninhibited exuberance is Isaiah Di Lorenzo. He bounces around the stage, hopping on kitchen counters and literally and figuratively getting into Austin’s face. Discussions of the weather in the desert, who’s the better burglar and even who is the better son sets the chaotic relationship into overdrive.

True-saul

William Roth (r) discusses his decision with William Humphrey as Isaiah Di Lorenzo watches from the background in the STLAS production of “True West.” Photo: Patrick Huber

William Roth plays the lackadaisical Saul who chooses the childish screenplay that he hopes Lee will write over the deep and more philosophical musings of Austin. The brothers’ mom, Susan Kopp, enters in the final scene and it doesn’t take long to see how the brothers became the taunting, selfish young men they’ve become. The entire cast is wonderful but the brothers dominate the evening and they work the audience with a joyous, if often crass, charm.

True-mom

William Humphrey (l) and Isaiah Di Lorenzo (r) explain what happened to Mom’s (Susan Kopp) house in “True West” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Photo: Patrick Huber

Patrick Huber’s set design is California clutter with a lot of turquoise and, eventually, clutter. Steve Miller’s lights enhance the surroundings and Andrea Robb’s costumes speak to the characters beautifully. Shaun Sheley gets a special nod for his realistic fight choreography particularly in the final scene.

True-floor

Isaiah Di Lorenzo tries to deal with William Humphrey during the STLAS production of “True West.” Photo: Patrick Huber

If you’ve never seen the brilliant “True West” or any of Sam Shepard’s other equally powerful plays (“Curse Of The Starving Class” and “Buried Child” are considered a perfect trilogy along with “True West”), it’s high time you’ve made the trip to St. Louis Actors’ Studio to see how brilliant this man was. It plays at STLAS through April 28th. Give them a call at 314-458-2978 for tickets or more information.

 

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