Three words sum up the premise of this play - bitter sibling
rivalry. Just think of Cain and Abel.
Austin is Abel, the good boy -- an Ivy League education, a
successful script writer in Hollywood. Think of older brother
Lee as Cain, a wild, hard-drinking drifter who's had some trouble
with the law, now living alone in the desert.
And as brothers often do, these guys know how to push each
other's buttons. In this scene, Lee is teasing about the easy life
of a script writer, but almost flashes into violence.
Lee: "That's a dumb line. Do you get paid for dreaming up
a line like that?"
Austin: "I can give you some money…"
Lee: "Don't you say that! Don't you ever say that to
Against all odds, Lee gets a Hollywood producer interested in
one of his disorganized tales as a movie. So these feuding brothers
begin writing a screenplay - a loopy Western involving two men on a
Since Lee never learned to type, he dictates to brother
Austin. And since this play is set in the 1970s, Austin uses a
manual typewriter with a ribbon and paper.
Lee: "They take off after each other, straight into an
endless black prairie. The sun's just coming down, and they can
feel the night on their backs…"
The scene is drenched in alcohol, and soon the inhibitions
drop away, rivalry takes over, and the play climaxes in a wild
late-night demolition derby involving crumpled beer cans, golf
clubs, corn flakes, electric toasters, and an rotary
Lee: "Isn't there a pen or a pencil in this house. Who
lives in this house anyway?
Austin: "Our mother!"
Lee: "Doesn't she have some? Isn't she a social
This show is a highly theatrical, physical piece, with actors
Jonathan Rhys Williams and Cole Alexander Smith pushing their
performances to the limit, with a volatile mix of fury,
food-fighting, and familial antagonism, mounted on a mythic
This is not a show for the kiddies or the faint of heart. But
if you can handle the visceral confrontations, "True West" is
wickedly funny, and by turns, very perceptive.