True West

Sam Shepard
Date Published
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Austin, working on his Hollywood screenplay, is disturbed by the arrival of his estranged brother, Lee, just returned from three months in the desert. During a brief spell of uneasy cohabitation in their absent mother’s house, Lee employs himself as a door-to-door burglar before killing his brother’s film idea by pitching his own to Austin’s producer. But Lee is no writer and the brothers must strike a deal, escalating sibling rivalry to fever pitch in the blazing Californian heat.

Sam Shephard’s True West was first performed at the Magic Theatre, San Francisco, in 1980 and has since become recognised as an American classic.

Critic Reviews

A mythic study of fraternal division… What makes the play so rich is Shepard’s profound understanding of the spiritual incompleteness of each brother and, by extension, of the American experience.

Critic Reviews

A rambunctious and spontaneous tale about sibling rivalry and the cronyism of popular culture. It shares with an earlier Shepard, Angel City, a sardonic concern with the seductiveness of Hollywood and with the battle between art and business. The play's principal characters, Lee and Austin, are fraternal opposites. Lee is a scurvy desert rat, Austin a hot shot intellectual screenwriter. They are country and city mouse, or the old and the new West.

New York Times