Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-12-11
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



by Karen Topham

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Sam Shepard

At: Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. Tickets: . Runs through: Aug. 25

What is the "true west?" Deserts and prairies and stories about unassailable heroes and black-hatted villains? California, with Hollywood's fantasy machine? Or is it to be found in the pleasant suburban homes that have sprung up seemingly everywhere in what once were wide open spaces? Steppenwolf Theatre explores all of these aspects of the American West in its revival of the play that put it on the map back in 1982: Sam Shepard's True West.

Jon Michael Hill and Namir Smallwood star as, respectively, Austin and Lee—two brothers with vastly different value systems. Austin, an educated man with a wife and family, is trying to make a name for himself as a Hollywood screenwriter, using the solitude of his mother's house to finish his script. To his dismay, he is visited by his older, intimidating brother—a drifter who robs houses to make money. When Lee, who initially makes fun of Austin's "art," decides to try to sell a story he has come up with, the brothers end up on a collision course that leads to the collapse of the younger brother's ideals and self-image.

Looming over them both is the image of their father—a broken, destitute, alcoholic failure who (like Lee) lives somewhere in the desert. Both of them are afraid that, in some way, they could become him. At the start, Lee seems more likely to fall into this trap, but Austin is not as far away as he'd like to believe, and as he slips more and more into desolation after his dream is usurped by a brother who can hardly even write. Nothing, not even his respect for their mother (Jacqueline Williams), can stop his more base nature from taking over his life.

Hill and Smallwood are both phenomenal here. These are two of the newer members of Steppenwolf's ensemble (Francis Guinan, reprising his role in the original, is on hand to represent the old guard), and they handle this iconic material with an aplomb that comes as no surprise whatsoever. What is more surprising, though, is how funny this play is. Shepard is not known for his comic stylings. Here, however, despite the serious undertones of the plot and the violence (oh, yes, there is violence) that occurs, Arney and his actors keep the audience laughing throughout. It doesn't diminish the drama of the play; it enhances the realism.

To judge from this play, the true west is realized more by the wild call of the desert than the undramatic sameness of suburbia. Harkening back to its roots, Steppenwolf once again puts this on display with its focus on the sometimes volatile nature of human beings, but at the same time delivers a production that never fails to entertain. Revisiting one of its greatest accomplishments, it has created a brilliant new one to add to the mix.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Joffrey Presents 'The Times Are Racing,' a mixed rep program 2019-12-13 - Dec. 13, 2019 ( Chicago ) — For its winter engagement, The Joffrey Ballet presents The Times Are Racing, a mixed repertory program ...

Gay News

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater includes Midwest premieres, Ailey classics 2019-12-12 - ( CHICAGO, IL ) — The Auditorium Theatre announces programming for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's March 4-8, 2020 performances in Chicago, featuring ...

Gay News

Renee Fleming in rehearsal with Lyric Opera for The Light in the Piazza 2019-12-11 - CHICAGO ( December 11, 2019 )—Rehearsals are underway for Scenario Two's presentation of the beloved Tony Award-winning musical The Light in the Piazza ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW A Xmas Cuento Remix­­ 2019-12-11 - By: Maya Malan-Gonzalez At: 16th Street Theater, 6420 16th St., Berwyn Tickets: 708-795-6704 or; $22-$32. Runs through: Dec. 29 You've ...

Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-12-11 - The Tall Boy, Stage 773, through Dec. 15—The celebrated talent behind this touring show ( Tandy Cronyn, Kay Boyle, Simon Bent ) create ...

Gay News

Five Worth Finding: Gay spy movie, Santa Suite and more 2019-12-11 - —London Spy: In this British-American series that originally aired in 2015, devil-may-care Danny ( played by a fantastic Ben Whishaw ) meets the ...

Gay News

'Nat King Cole' holiday show Dec. 16-17 2019-12-10 - Writers Theatre, in partnership with Artists Lounge Live, will present a limited engagement of An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas, starring Evan Tyrone ...

Gay News

10th anniversary of 'The Nutcracker' features gay dads 2019-12-10 - The House Theatre of Chicago will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the annual hit production The Nutcracker—an all-original, ballet-free and family-friendly production playing ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Land of Forgotten Toys 2019-12-10 - Authors: Music by Dylan MarcAurele; book and lyrics by Jaclyn Enchin and Jennifer Enchin, based on a story by Larry Little At: The ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Tall Boy 2019-12-07 - Playwright: Simon Bent At: Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: and 773-327-5252; $35-$39. Runs through: Dec. 15 The absence ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.