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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

New Era Players - True West

24th August to 2nd September 2023

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Rising to the True West challenge

Brothers Austin (a screenwriter struggling to put together an authentic story) and Lee (a destitute hustler) find themselves at their mother’s house, while she is away. The pair work through their bitterness and resentment, each envious of the other’s lifestyle, in often explosive scuffles that force them to confront their own flaws and limitations.

Chris Billingham performed Austin with subtlety and lightness, portraying the character’s open sensitivity perfectly. Sean Strange interpreted Lee with an assured, muscular swagger and a threatening unpredictability that drives much of the tension in the first half. Donald Crerar was superbly disingenuous as movie producer Saul and Lisa Mounteer-Watson gave an excellently humorous performance as Mom, returning from Alaska to witness the final scenes of devastation. The play was punctuated by Steve Higgins appearing as the archetypal bluesman on slide guitar, encapsulating the spirit of the lawless desert of America’s old west.

This image that permeates popular culture through television and film is a far cry from the lived experience of the contemporary US.

True West is a complex, dark comedy with nuanced characters, in which it is often what is not said, that is important.

This demanded a lot of the actors, and required a thoughtful approach to production design.

Fortunately, under Higgins’ perceptive direction, New Era rose to the challenge in every way, to present a performance of the highest quality.