Review: ‘True West’ Hilariously Kicks Off Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s 6th Season

Angelica Potter

  • Boston Theatre Critic

‘True West’ was written by Sam Shepard in 1980, and yet his understanding of family dynamics and the volatility of stage and screen producers, allows this play to burst from the page decades later when his characters are portrayed with boundless energy and charisma. What makes them all the more believable is when passionate, seasoned actors are partnered with a visionary director to present a realistic look at a tumultuous relationship. That is what I have found with Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s production of ‘True West’.

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Bob Mussett plays Austin, a respectable, ambitious screenwriter tirelessly working on the script that will make him a household name. But when his older brother Lee shows up unannounced, to say Austin gets distracted would be an understatement. Lee, played by Victor Shopov, is a heavy drinking nomadic thief, who gets an unforeseen break that could turn his life around. It may send his brother into a downward spiral, but Lee doesn’t seem too concerned about the havoc he is wreaking on Austin’s life.  The brotherly chemistry between Mussett and Shopov is believable from the start. The tension between them builds then spills over the edge a few times during the course of the play. It finally overflows as the lights dim on the last moments of the production. This careful balance of emotional and physical turmoil was skillfully directed by Daniel Bourque. He had previously directed the pair in Hub Theatre’s ‘Art’ a few years back and it was a smart choice to put them together once again for ‘True West’. Their portrayals of Austin and Lee were authentic and unpredictably funny.

The cast also included Robert Orzalli as Saul, a sleazy Hollywood Executive who toys with the brothers’ futures and seems to enjoy it a bit too much. Orzalli’s performance was the perfect blend of greasy, intimidating mob boss & high powered business executive. The audience could not get enough of him. Austin and Lee’s Mom was portrayed by Maureen Adduci who comes home to find her kitchen not exactly how she left it. Though she appeared late in the show, her interaction with Austin and Lee was well received. 

The audience couldn’t stop laughing for most of this 90 minute, immensely enjoyable production. ‘True West’ is being performed through April 28th at First Church Boston located at 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA.  For more information and tickets visit Tickets for all shows are set as “pay-what-you-can”; so why not invite your siblings for a night out and a few laughs. By the end of this play you may realize your sibling relationship, when compared to Lee and Austin, is relatively normal. ©

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