A darkly humorous sibling rivalry takes center stage in “True West,” opening Friday at the Forge Theater in Moscow.Produced by the University of Idaho Department of Theatre Arts, the show centers on two brothers who could not be more opposite. Austin is a well-educated family man working on a screenplay soon to be pitched to a film producer. The older brother, Lee, is estranged from the family and has been living in the desert for some time. The two converge at their mother’s California home, where, despite Austin’s best attempt to arrange otherwise, Lee shows up during the meeting with the film producer and usurps his deal with a better idea.
The rivalry takes a dramatic turn for the worse. The brothers need each other — Lee doesn’t have the skills to write the screenplay and Austin doesn’t have a deal without his brother’s idea — but neither want to help the other out.
“It comes down to these two brothers fighting desperately for what they want,” said director Stephen John. “They can fix it, but they choose not to — and that ends up being their downfall.”
Written by Sam Shepard — an American playwright, actor, author, screenwriter and director who died last year — the classic play is a “tragedy for the common man,” John said, which reflects Shepard’s experience of the changing American family dynamic and experience of the American dream, which tells us that anyone can get what they want.
“He considered the American dream to be a lie,” John said.
The fighting that ensues between the brothers leads to chaos and ridiculous things happen as emotions run high — sometimes involving the toasters from homes around the neighborhood.
“It’s very dark, but very funny,” John said.
The show will take place in the Forge Theater, which has an intimate seating of only 86 seats — which means some audience members will, at times, be not much more than a few feet away from the acting. The show contains adult language and situations and may not be suitable for children.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: ‘True West’
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and April 5-7, and 2 p.m. Sunday and April 7-8.
WHERE: Forge Theater, 404 Sweet Ave., Moscow
COST: $10-15/person, free for University of Idaho students; tickets are available in advance at BookPeople, 521 S. Main St., Moscow, or at the door 30 minutes before curtain