5 August 2006

True West

Pulitzer Prize winner Sam Shepard's story is brought to Edinburgh, but where will we find an actor to play alongside the very powerful Tom Stade.  But I thought Tom Stade is a stand-up comic? Yes he is, as too is the small part assigned to Dave Johns. So who's the other lead then? That'll be the omni-present Phil Nichol, winner of the Stage Best Actor Award 2005. After this he has an hour and a half before Talk Radio, then another hour and a half before his stand up show The Naked Racist. Phil plays the very quite brother to Tom's aggressive criminal elder brother. Both of the leads put in really strong performances but the biggest problem is with the script. About two-thirds of the way through the play the tone changes and all of a sudden there are laughs a plenty (coinciding with when Phil gets to let loose). I don't really know if it was necessary to build up such tension for the first half to be able to generate the concluding laughs but the change of focus for a while was a little distracting. That said, the venue has its left most wall exposed on to the noisy Rose Street and nobody heard the buskers or general festival raucous from outside after the first five minutes as you get sucked into their world very quickly. Good acting, a good story but just missing something to give it that extra star so it only gets three out of five. If you're a massive fan of Phil Nichol then go see it, otherwise watch him in Talk Radio to get a better value performance.