|David Mogentale (Lee) and Ken Barnett (Austin) in an old fashioned draw.|
Pittsburgh Public has truly brought the best to Pittsburgh for this play. David Mogentale's Lee is fantastic (a clear result of his broadway experience with the show) - raw and unapologetic, he is in- your-FACE. An utter mess of a man pretending to be satisfied with his unpredictable and mooching lifestyle. Ken Barnett (Austin) is just as strong in his own right. Sure, playing the simple, dependable one may seem hum drum at first, but when personalities switch, Barnett is a comedic delight. The toast scene (imagining the "many unhappy, bewildered breakfast faces") was, by far, my absolute favorite. True West is a play that largely depends on chemistry between the two brothers - the audience must believe that there is a dark and tumultuous past between them. Barnett and Mogentale accomplish this - largely because the sheer physicality each brings to their respective role is at such a high - yet equal - level to it's opposite. It doesn't hurt that they have a spot-on set in which to cultivate their craft. The set, from the atrocious floral wallpaper to the groovy refrigerator color, takes the audience back in time to a 70's kitchen just outside of Los Angeles, California.
True West explores various levels of what happens when opposing forces meet on a landscape reminiscent of an old Western gunfight. Beginnings and endings, crickets and coyotes, stable and unstable, the American dreams and many Americans' reality, success and failure, right and wrong. Shepard explores each, asking what the audience holds dearest - and evaluating whether or not that sentiment is well-placed.
(fun fact: I keep wanting to write "True Grit" instead of "True West." As it happens, True Grit would be an apropos title for this play, as well.)
True West is at the O'Reilly Theater from now until December 8th. For ticket information and more details, visit the Pittsburgh Public Theater website - and enjoy the show!