West not won

TRUE WEST by Sam Shepard, directed by Nick Mancuso, with Billie Mintz, James Shannon Nelligan, Louise Reynolds and Bryan Elliot..


TRUE WEST by Sam Shepard, directed by Nick Mancuso, with Billie Mintz, James Shannon Nelligan, Louise Reynolds and Bryan Elliot. Presented by Actor’s Meeting Place at the Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley). Runs to Saturday (September 21) at 8 pm. $15. 416-588-6517. Rating: NN Rating: NN

a cain-and-abel story touched with schizophrenia, True West is a tight, nasty script about American dreams and nightmares. The Actor’s Meeting Place production, directed by Nick Mancuso, captures little of the show’s tensions and comedy. It doesn’t help that the actors are still stepping on each other’s lines, further wilting the play’s rhythmic and emotional tautness.Screenwriter Austin (Billie Mintz), house-sitting for his vacationing mother (Louise Reynolds), finds himself saddled with his brother Lee (James Shannon Nelligan), a drifter and small-time hustler who plans to move various merchandise from neighbouring houses. But then Lee meets movie producer Saul Kimmer (Bryan Elliot) and plans to move into his bro’s territory.

As the quiet, conciliatory Ivy-Leaguer, Mintz plays Austin’s disintegration with some skill, revealing a dark side beneath the well-dressed surface. Nelligan, though, is a one-note Lee, a twang-toned shouter who suggests no menace and therefore can’t conjure up the danger that the character needs.

There’s more variety in Elliot’s Kimmer, in this production a coked-up bigshot with a suggested yen for both brothers. Elliot’s only onstage for two scenes, but he’s a far scarier figure than Nelligan’s Lee.jonkap@nowtoronto.com

glenns@nowtoronto.com

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