By the end of Rep Stage’s production of “True West,” the stage is littered with the remnants of an entire kitchen. Toast, silverware, empty beer cans and appliances cover the floor of an ’80s California kitchen. In the midst of this mess, stand 2 men ready to come to blows yet spent by what has occurred. The actors that play these two men – Daniel Corey (Austin) and Tim Getman (Lee) – are also spent having given tirelessly explosive performances for much of the last 90 minutes. Over the course of the show, the men have dominated the stage metaphorically and physically, providing the audience with a complex take on brotherly relationships.
…the production itself is one of incredible talent and creative vision.
Rep Stage’s “True West,” directed by the ever-creative Vincent Lancisi (Creative Director at Everyman Theatre), is an intriguing tale of brothers – one good, and one not so good – and what happens to those brothers during one fateful visit to their mother’s house. Austin, the “good” brother struggles with a screenplay. He’s seemingly creative, and most definitely the caretaker of his family. The strong desire to be a good person was played well. Corey’s likability and earnestness are quite apparent throughout the piece, which makes his transformation all the more shocking.
As Lee, Getman’s talent for physical acting is on full display all evening. His Lee is bombastic, and active – prowling and shouting at his brother much of the time. Every character note, from the tatters of his costumer to his carelessness about what he spilled and where he spilled it, is deliberate. Getman as Lee is hard to ignore, and the truth is you don’t want to look away. In his dedication to Lee’s shamelessness, Getman has created an unforgettable character.
The extremes of the two men provide the audience a look at what happens when two very talented actors share the stage. The performers are obviously comfortable with each other. This comfort allows them to fully commit to the work at hand. The piece includes violent outbursts and volleying dialogue, escalating throughout the scenes. This escalation is played deftly by the actors. Because of the pace of the show and the talent of both Corey and Getman, it’s not until the lights come up and the audience is given a chance to take a breath, that you realize what has transpired over the course of the play.
With Lancisi’s astute direction and the beautiful scenic design of Nathaniel Sinnott, the show is creative and suspenseful. Because all of the action takes place in one small house over the course of days, the space needs to be interesting but also usable for the actors. The ’80s style home is full of small details that make a house a home. What is even more impressive is the actors’ ability to work in the space. At any given time, the actors are searching in drawers or drinking many different beverages, and yet Corey and Getman easily navigate each action. A special shout-out should be made to the stage crew in charge of resetting the complicated set each night. The lighting design (Joseph R. Walls) is also incredibly effective in conveying the time passage. Between lighting for the California sunshine or a dark night, it is always very easy to see just how long the brothers have been arguing.
In the hands of two actors without the talent of Corey and Getman, the show could have been flat and uneventful. Though, in this production, 90 minutes of conversation between two very different men seems mesmerizing. Though the relationship of the two brothers may be fraught with hardship, this production is anything but. The outcome of the brothers’ arguments may not be pretty. In sharp contrast to the story though, the outcome of the production itself is one of incredible talent and creative vision.
RunningTime: Approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes with one intermission.
Advisory: Adult themes and adult language.
“True West” plays through May 13, 2018, at Rep Stage – 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia MD, 21044. For tickets, call (443)518-1500 or purchase online.