A recent play that has premiered in the Boston theatre scene is Sam Shepard’s True West presented by the Hub Theatre Company at the First Church in Boston.. Directed by Daniel Bourque, starring Bob Mussett, Victor Shopov, Robert Orzalli and Maureen Adduci; and kicking off Hub Theatre Company’s sixth season, the show ran from April 13-28th in their front multi-purpose room, tickets always being pay-what-you-can – which is something of a marvel.
True West was written by Sam Shepard in 1980 and is considered the third installment of his Family Trilogy. This finalist for the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama is about sibling rivalry and Shepard’s understanding of dysfunctional family dynamics between two estranged brothers still leaps from the page.
Austin, a hungry screenwriter, played by bob Mussett, is house sitting for his mother while she is on vacation in Alaska. Away from his family, working hard on a script he plans to sell within days, Austin is stunted by the unannounced arrival of his alcoholic vagabond petty criminal brother Lee, played by Victor Shopov. Unconcerned by the effect he’s having on his brother, Lee begins recking havoc on Austin’s fantasy by interrupting his meeting with a big time film producer Saul, played by Robert Orzalli, and getting his own big break that could change his future. The tension between the estranged brothers builds and blows up time and time again each struggling to prove they can walk in each other’s shoes. Shepard’s comedic American Gothic out does it’s own chaos with every passing minute until the ultimate stand off is inevitable.
Within Hub Theatre’s intimate space the audience couldn’t stop laughing and also feared the debris as Lee (Victor Shopov) took a baseball bat to his brother’s typewriter. It was smart that the hub took such a high octane piece and put the intimately small numbered audience inches away from the action. You couldn’t escape, you cared and worried about these characters, especially when Austin (Bob Mussett) drank himself into committing house theft, stealing dozens of toasters. Bourque lead this cast into a hilarious all out downward spiral. With every destruction you couldn’t help but wonder how they put the set back together every night. You begin to feel a little sorry for the crew designation to clean up this 90 minute tornado.
For those who have never seen a Sam Shepard piece or have only imagined what the potential of his plays could look like this performance reached above and beyond. With nothing more than a standard kitchen set, the Hub Theatre was able to pull off a phenomenal production. You understand why most of this cast and crew have won or have been nominated by the IRNEs.
You leave the theatre feeling full and refreshed. With everything going on in the world it’s nice to lose yourself and acknowledge that theatre doesn’t always require a political stand but you’re able to laugh alongside the audience for a good night.