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Theatre Exile's TRUE WEST

Jeb Kreager (seated) and Brian Osborne (standing) in Theatre Exile's TRUE WEST, directed by Matt Pfeiffer.
Photo by Paola Nogueras

Theatre Exile's True West

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In the modern American masterpiece, Sam Shephard's TRUE WEST, presented by Theatre Exile and directed by Matt Pfeiffer, two brothers, Austin and Lee reconnect after years of living remarkably different lives.

Austin (played by Jeb Kreager) has lived the respectable life of screenwriter, husband, and father. On the other hand, Lee (played by Brian Osborne) has lived the not-so-respectable life of begging, borrowing, and stealing his way across the country. When they meet in their mother's home, sibling rivalry over a movie deal destroys the brothers and their mother's kitchen alike. This darkly comedic, painfully honest story questions identity, envy, and the type of people who kill other people the most - family.

Kreager plays the mousey brother, Austin, with bumbling oafishness, earnest physicalization, and hopeful tension. His thin structure of control teeters painfully close to the edge of insanity as his brother, Lee, drives him towards a breaking point. Lee, played by Osborne, is a slightly more over-the-top, in-your-face kind of crazy. His spastic, knee jerk reactions border on erratic and unplausible. Where Osborne becomes believable and eerily menacing is in his interaction with movie producer Saul (played by Joe Canuso). His manipulation and politically-greased charm ooze out of every smile, handshake, and wink. It is then when you can see how this brother survived the desert.

The cast is rounded out by E. Ashley Izard, who plays Austin and Lee's mother.

Theatre Exile's TRUST WEST runs until February 23, 2014 at Plays & Players Theatre (1714 Delancey Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103). For tickets, call 215-218-0422 or visit www.theatreexile.org.