True West

Every time I think of the title of this play, I think of the film Slow West. Or maybe I get it confused with True Grit? I guess it doesn’t really matter because it isn’t either one of those and I only mentioned that because I had to google the title to make sure I got it right before I started to write this. That’s actually not true. I didn’t google anything and I’m just hoping for the best with the name of this play.

Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano. One is the stars of one of my favorite film trilogies ever and the other rode a corpse of Daniel Radcliffe as a farting zombie jetski. No, no, I love Paul Dano too ever since seeing him as the mute son in Little Miss Sunshine. There have been moments where I try to see a play just because it has some celebrity as the star (the one with Lucas Hedges and Michael Cera, the one with John Larroquette, the one with that guy from Elementary, if I ever see that Bryan Cranston one, etc) and then there are times I try to see a performance because it’s one of the few plays I have the written text of. Do I have multiple books of Sam Shepard’s plays? I do. Have I read a single one? I haven’t, but it’s not like a play acted out is anything different than what you’d read. It’s just the acted version of the dialogue. So really is it even worth reading a play if you can’t see it acted out? C’mon now, kids enjoy Shakespeare a lot more when they can see it live than when they have to read it in high school English class. Kids are also stupid though and don’t appreciate art. Not me though, a true artist who respects the output of the other artists in the world.

I already wrote a post or two about John’s Daly Daughter and I can throw her another quick shout out here tonight as well. I am forever connected to Patti Smith, and I am forever connected to Bridget through the lightning bolt we both embody. Pretty sure saying embody makes it sound like it’s coming through our spirit and not something permanently tattooed and maybe it’s both. The point is, Patti Smith and Sam Shepard themselves got matching tattoos. Not matching in the identical sense, but matching in the how twins can not be identical sense. I know there’s a title for that but I don’t want to look that up either so I’ll just go with what I said. It’s why I got all his plays, it’s why I wanted to be more connected to him because of the connection I had with Patti and Bridget. I do realize I’m just going from John Daly’s Daughter to Bridget; whatever, their names are interchangeable. I get distracted and I already forgot what my point was. I just wanted to throw more recognition at Bridget/John Daly’s Daughter because this play, the excitement for this play was spearheaded by my excitement for Patti Smith, my bond with Bridget, and it was a culmination of everything that led me to wanting to watch this.

One of the benefits of going to a play with another person is the conflicting opinions that could arise. I guess that could be a blessing or a curse and can almost apply to anything that go with a second person to. It really is nothing special about a play experience and I only mention it all because of the enamoration I had with the play and how my partner thought it was one of the worst things she’d ever seen. Okay, her exact words weren’t worst thing she’s ever seen. It was more, “That was one of the least favorite shows I’ve seen in New York.”. Which could be vastly different than worst thing ever because even the worst of Broadway could be better than a lot of trash elsewhere. Again, I can’t speak for her feelings but hey, maybe my love for it was blinded by my prior history with it.

Why do I start new paragraphs haphazardly? I’m also not sure about that, it just happens. Probably for the same reason I randomly throw in a semicolon for no reason; it just happens.  The play though, ah yes, the play. A play of two brothers, a play of mainly only two brothers that comprise the principal cast. There are some other characters thrown in there, but this is a tale of two brothers. The nerdier, more established, high strung brother and the rebel, unemployed, hustler brother. I am not expert on the play, though I feel I know more about it than most shows I watch. Just because of my connection to Sam Shepard and just because on podcasts I’ve listened to this play comes up. I think of how John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman did this play together, switching the roles of the brother for every performance. During the first half of the show, I thought that made complete sense because one character seems much more fun to play than the other. Though it was in the second half where mental breakdown started to affect both brothers that both really got to unleash the reigns of civility and dive deep into debauchery. I realize I get close to 1000 words before I even start to talk about my actual thoughts on the play and then I’m already thinking about how I should wrap this up before it gets too long.

In conclusion… I jest. Really though, some things are hard to describe and even harder when you saw them over a month ago. Watching a man cook 12 toasters worth of toast after he drunkenly proves to his brother over and over again that he’s a guy that’s rough and tough enough, badass enough to steal something is a sight to behold. Especially when the entire theatre fills with the smell of burnt toast and you’re not sure if you’re having a stroke or not. Watching two men dissolve into drunken degenerates who struggle to write a single screenplay is a sight to behold. I like watching the gradual downfall of people when it can be pulled off well and I think it worked out within just a couple of hours. You could sense the relationship, the tenseness, it brewing and it actually concluded culminating in dramatic fashion.

Again, do I know how much of my enjoyment was garnered just because I have a personal connection to the work? Of course not, I don’t think I could reasonably figure that out and that’s okay. I did enjoy it. I went with someone who did not enjoy it. That’s theater baby! I feel compelled to read more of Sam Shepard’s work and to see it played out. Get it? Played. Play. Puns. As soon as I wrote that last sentence, Kudzu the dog, just gave me a look saying “Are you serious man? C’mon, you’re better than that.” I am not sure if I’m better than that in the slightest so I’m just going to end this prematurely or post maturely because I’ve written too many words anyhoo. So it goes.


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