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  True West at American Theater Company

True West

American Theater Company
1909 W Byron Chicago

Shepard’s most produced play tells the story of two brothers: Austin, an ambitious Hollywood screenwriter working on a potential million-dollar deal and Lee, a vagabond thief with a compulsion for six-packs and toasters. Austin and Lee face off for control while venting demons from their dysfunctional past.

Thru - Mar 8, 2009



Price: $35-$40

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-409-4125

Running Time: 1hr 15mins; no intermission

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  True West Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...PJ Paparelli’s new take on “True West” is not as successful in this go-round. The director puts some interesting ideas in play, but as frequently happens with this iconic post-Steppenwolf play, the actors tend to play the violent end right from the start."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Sam Shepard's 1980 play gets produced a lot, so maybe director P.J. Paparelli felt pressured to bring something new to the tale of a namby-pamby screenwriter's unhappy reunion with his scary but charismatic drifter brother. All Paparelli offers, though, is frequent reminders that he's updated the action to the present: iPods, contemporary interior design, and oddly specific supertitles announcing the date, time, and temp before each scene."
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Zac Thompson


Windy City Times - Recommended

"...Take in the American Theatre Company's balls-to-the-wall staging of True West, and you will never look at your kitchen toaster the same way again. Hyper-violent, uproariously funny and sublimely profane, the piece is a gleefully destructive Cain and Abel fable. If you're sitting in a front row, watch out for shrapnel. And the occasional kitchen appliance."

Catey Sullivan


Chicago Free Press - Recommended

"...PJ Paparelli helps his cast find multiple layers in their every movement and keeps things moving with a crackling sense of humor and whip-sharp rhythm. Suzanne Petri and Mike McNamara ably support Irons and Bryant on stage, while Keith Pitts’ bright highly functional set design deserves special notice as well."
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Brian Kirst


Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...In Shepard’s 1980 play, buttoned-up screenwriter Austin (Brumlow) is surprised by his wayward drifter brother Lee (Grush) as Austin prepares a love-story pitch for a slick movie producer (a precisely oily turn by McNamara). When the producer instead bites on Lee’s idea for a modern Western, the siblings’ rivalry boils over as they struggle with this upheaval in their respective senses of identity."
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Kris Vire


ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...The pace is rapid and the fight between these two brothers is one of the monumental struggles in American theatre. It is Virginia Woolf, but meaner and more violent. The caustic chemistry between Brumlow and Grush is something to behold, so if you like authentic emotionally charged scenes this is a must see. Just watch out for flying objects if you sit near the stage."
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Randy Hardwick


   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.


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